Etixx - Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Dubai Tour, a 663km stage race in its 2nd year. Dubai Tour is part of the UCI Asia Tour, and it has been upgraded to 2.HC status for 2015. The race is held from February 4th until February 7th. The parcours of the stages normally favor a bunch sprint, as was the case in three out of four stages in the first edition. Unlike the 2014 edition, there will not be a prologue.
Mark Cavendish will be the leader of the team, and his leadout train will include Mark Renshaw and Fabio Sabatini. Tony Martin, three-time UCI ITT World Champion, is also part of the selection.
"I'm looking forward to riding Dubai for a second straight year," Cavendish said. "It's well organized and it is an important early season race to prepare our leadout train. We'll be going with Mark Renshaw and also Fabio Sabatini, who is a new part of our leadout. It will be the first time the three of us work together in a competition. I worked really well with Sabatini at Tour de San Luis. He fits in really well. I think he will be great to position Renshaw as the final leadout man, and to also keep the train smooth. We'll be looking for wins at this race just as we did at Tour de San Luis, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do and further fine tuning our leadout."
"We go into Dubai Tour with a team set up around Mark Cavendish in anticipation of the sprints," Sport Director Brian Holm said. "Stage 3 is one that can likely make the difference with the GC, with some uphills at 10% and 7%, as well as a finish at Hatta Dam with a steep ramp of 17 percent. But even with the other stages that are predicted to end in sprints, we aren't taking anything for granted."
With the upgrade in UCI status, the race has drawn tougher competition for 2015.
"There are some good teams here with some talented riders," Holm said. "But we also have Mark Renshaw here as the final leadout man for Cav, which is something we didn't have at Tour de San Luis last week. Fabio Sabatini did a nice job in his first race with the team filling in that role, but even though this is very early in the year, I'd like to see what these three guys can do together in Dubai with the support of other very hard working, strong riders like Tony Martin, Julien Vermote, Carlos Verona, Lukasz Wisniowski, and Petr Vakoc. This is a well organized race and everyone is excited to come back here with even better competition. In the first edition none of the teams knew what to expect from the conditions and the parcours. This year we return with a better understanding of Dubai Tour. But of course, this is cycling. Anything can happen at any stage. We need to be awake at all times. We are here with a strong team, racing against good competition, and we will see what can happen."
Etixx - Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in the Cadel Evans Ocean Race, a 179km in distance, held on Sunday, February 1st.
Six Etixx - Quick-Step riders who also participated in Tour Down Under, including Australian Mark Renshaw, have trained in Geelong during the last week in preparation of the one-day race.
"I'm very excited to compete in another professional race in Australia one week after the Tour Down Under," Renshaw said. "It gives the opportunity of improving form and to race over in Victoria down in Geelong will be quite magical as the crowds will be spectacular."
BMC Racing Team rider Cadel Evans will be retiring from cycling after this self-titled race.
"Cycling in Australia is getting bigger every year," Renshaw said. "Of course with Cadel Evans retiring it brings a lot of attention to the race, and he's put a lot of input into the race. So, for sure it is going to be a success and who knows, if I can fight for the win it would be nice to add this one to my palmares.
"I think the circuit will be pretty difficult," Renshaw continued. "The World Championships were on the same circuit a few years ago where a sprinter won, but I think it will be a little different for this race as they changed things a little bit to make it more difficult. I think as we go along the coastline, south of Geelong, there will be a chance that the crosswind changes the race and I think everyone is also forgetting that it isn't flat along the coast line either. There are a lot of up and downs."
This year, Mark Cavendish, one of Etixx - Quick-Step's biggest riders, and his lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, will participate in the Cycle Tour for the first time.
The Cycle Tour attracts 35 000 cyclists to Cape Town every year and, over the past 36 years, has emerged as one of the greatest cycling events on the planet, with everyone from rank amateurs to Hollywood celebrities to top pro riders taking part.
The headquarters for Cavendish and Renshaw will be the beautiful wine estate of Klein Constantia, owned by team owner Zdenek Bakala. Starting this year, Klein Constantia will be a jersey sponsor for team Etixx - Quick-Step.
As they did in 2014, Klein Constantia and Etixx-Quick-Step will host a special cocktail function and auction, and a short bike ride to support Francois Pienaar's MAD CHARITY ™ (Make a Difference) on Friday, the 6th of March.
Mark Cavendish and five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx, the undisputed greatest pro cyclist of all-time, will be guests of honour at the event.
"I've never been to South Africa before," says Cavendish. "I've heard great things about the Cycle Tour and I'm excited about the trip. I've heard from a few riders who have been there before that it's a lovely place, and a beautiful event to race. To ride with 35 000 people, that's not something I've ever done in a bike race before. But I'm looking forward to it. Klein Costantia is a new sponsor of the team this year, and I want to do them and Mr. Bakala proud by going and showing my support. Also, I am happy to be associated with the charity actions they will sponsor. I'm really looking forward to visiting South Africa for the first time and taking part in a well-organised event that comes with a history of goodwill and charity attached to it."
Etixx - Quick-Step Cycling Team already added a road win to their 2015 win tally on Sunday. Mark Cavendish won Tour de San Luis Stage 7 in a bunch sprint that was well organized by the team. First, Michal Golas made the original breakaway. As the breakaway was caught, Etixx - Quick-Step made sure they were in good position in the final 10km for the leadout for the Manx Missile.
Fabio Sabatini was the last man for Cavendish, and he led him out perfectly on the right side. Cavendish launched his sprint at the perfect distance from the finish to get the win over Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) — winner of two stages at Tour de San Luis — and Jakob Mareczko (Italy).
"The team was really motivated today after several close calls," Cavendish said. "I was 2nd in two sprints, and Michal Kwiatkowski was 2nd in the time trial. So we wanted to close Tour de San Luis with a win because we rode really well together as a team all week. We wanted to get something from it and we did. We worked hard at this race I'm thrilled to leave Argentina with a victory.
Etixx - Quick-Step has two overall victories for the year before the end of January.
"We rode a tactically smart race," Cavendish said. "When the break went, Michal Golas went with it. But eventually the teams who didn't have riders in the break chased it down. We didn't have to pull earlier because he was in the break, so we were all fresh for the final. With 4 kilometers to go Guillaume Van Keirsbulck took it up. Other teams came close, but then Lukasz Wisniowski took over the leadout. He took it into the last corner. Lampre-Merida took over from there, but then Michal Kwiatkowski went fast with just under a kilometer to go. Fabio Sabatini was the last guy and he led me out starting at 600 meters to go. At 300 meters to go I went. We knew we could go long, as we did recon of the finish prior to the race. It's slightly downhill. So with the long distance acceleration of a guy like Gaviria and that kind of a finish, it's important to anticipate his sprint and do the job before he does. We did that, and I'm super and happy and proud we could come away with a win here. It's important, not just for myself, but for the whole team, to get a good feeling started here. This is important race experience that we will use to build for our season. You can't replicate this kind of preparation at any kind of a training camp. You need to have other riders around you to really work on your leadout. Tour de San Luis in January is a perfect way to do that. A win is the best way to show you are building for the rest of your season."
The 6th and final stage of the Santos Tour Down Under ended in a bunch sprint. Etixx - Quick-Step rider Gianni Meersman finished 11th.
Wouter Wippert (Drapac) took the win in the final stage outsprinting Australian champion Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) and Boris Vallee (Lotto-Soudal). Meersman finished just outside the top-10 in 11th place.
Rohan Dennis (BMC) won the overall classifiation. Richie Porte (Sky) and team mate Cadel Evans were on the final podium as the numbers 2 and 3. Maxime Bouet was the first Etixx - Quick-Step rider at position 15.more information