La siguiente entrada del blog es de Petr Vakoc, quien está participando en el Giro de Italia por primera vez en su carrera profesional.
Estaba muy emocionado cuando me enteré de que me seleccionaron para el Giro! Mi primera gran vuelta... fue un poco una sorpresa para mí, ¡pero una muy buena! Por supuesto que sabía que iba a ser duro, el Giro es una carrera difícil, pero es muy bonita también. Yo realmente no sabía qué esperar. Pero aun así superó mis expectativas. También el ambiente de la carrera es increíble, incluso mejor de lo que había imaginado.
Las primeras etapas que disputamos fueron montañosas desde la salida hasta el final y no ha habido ninguna etapa fácil todavía. Pero ha sido también precioso. Me gusta realmente correr en Italia y hay mucho público viendo la carrera. ¡Y correr para Rigoberto Urán y apoyarlo es realmente un honor! Me gusta mucho correr con él, es muy profesional, pero también es un tío muy simpático. Nos divertimos mucho, en la bicicleta, ¡pero también fuera de la bicicleta!
La "menor" diversión ha sido la 7ª etapa, la etapa más larga del Giro, tuvimos un fuerte viento en contra, fue muy larga. :-) Después de la primera semana en el Giro debo decir que me encanta Italia. ¡La comida es increíble! Pasta, pasta, pasta, ¡me encanta! Además, el paisaje aquí en hermoso, pero tengo que decir que lo mejor de estar aquí en Italia es el ambiente. ¡La gente es increíble aquí!
Pienso que podemos estar muy contentos con los resultados de mi equipo. Empezamos ganando con Mark Cavendish en Argentina y la tendencia no se detuvo. Después de Argentina ganamos en Dubai, Qatar, después en Algarve, y ganamos la Kuurne-Bruselas-Kuurne. Tuvimos una pequeña derrota táctica en el Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, pero es bueno ser batido para tener los pies en el suelo.
A continuación, tuvimos una victoria en el prólogo de la París-Niza. Los triunfos continuaron, así como varios segundos puestos. Por supuesto que preferiríamos ganar, pero casi siempre estábamos al final. En la Milán-San Remo, Kwiatkowski y Stybar se cayeron en la bajada del Poggio. Si no hubiera sido por la mala suerte, habríamos tenido la oportunidad de ganar o subir al podio allí también. Gante-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke, Flandes y Roubaix, todas las Clásicas de los Adoquines, así como las clásicas de las Ardenas, casi nunca estuvimos fuera del podio o ganamos. No creo que ningún otro equipo haya hecho lo mismo.
Creo que el espíritu de equipo es bastante bueno. Vi un equipo centrado, y si quieres ganar o ser protagonista, tienes que estar por delante y un poco nervioso. Si todo el mundo está demasiado relajado, puedes estar seguro que no tendrás resultados. En las carreras del Norte no tuvimos a Tom Boonen, que es realmente el líder del equipo. Así que esto dio la oportunidad para que los otros chicos tomaran la responsabilidad y lo hicieron muy bien. También descubrimos algunos jóvenes talentos, como Yves Lampaert. Otros como Niki Terpstra y Zdenek Stybar confirmaron lo que ya sabíamos sobre ellos. Podios clave en las Clásicas de los Adoquines. En las Clásicas de las Ardenas parecíamos ser más débiles en esas carreras y creo que tuvimos la mejor temporada en la historia del equipo. El Campeón Mundial Kwiatkowski ganó la Amstel Gold Race y Julian Alaphilippe fue gran el descubrimiento de la temporada hasta ahora. Fue séptimo en la Amstel Gold Race, y después segundo en la Flecha Valona y Lieja-Bastogne-Lieja a los 22 años de edad, y en su primera vez en esas carreras.
Teniendo en cuenta todas estas cosas, soy un mánager feliz. Estamos en el puesto número uno en el UCI WorldTour por una razón, y es porque somos el único equipo que puede decir que hemos ido por la victoria en todo tipo de situaciones, desde enero hasta finales de abril.
¡Sigamos adelante con esta tensión y con buen ánimo en las próximas carreras!
Not bad for a team who has too much second places only 21 victories @Etixx_QuickStep #OurWay happy man so far that's total team effort— Patrick Lefevere (@PatLefevere) April 27, 2015
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Michal Kwiatkowski met with the media on Saturday in anticipation of Amstel Gold Race, which takes place on Sunday, April 19th. He gives his thoughts about the upcoming race in the comments below.
"The most important thing at Amstel Gold Race is to be awake and in front, with your team supporting you, from the start," Kwiatkowski said. "Anything can happen and you don't need to really know the key point of the race because it is everywhere. You can lose a lot of energy even nine kilometers after the start with the first climb. You have to pace yourself. There are so many important moments. Maybe you cannot win the race in those places, but you can lose it for sure if something unpredictable happens. The favorites are always supported by their teams knowing this and that's why it may seem like a climb like the Cauberg is a key moment. But for sure, there is important work to be done before and after that point. You have to be flexible for the situation of the race and be sure that you have enough teammates around you to react to actions.
"I think a guy like Philippe Gilbert knows so well this climb, and it's not easy to be with him at the top if he were to attack on the Cauberg," Kwiatkowski continued. "But last year I made a mistake of chasing full gas Samuel Sanchez, and I missed the acceleration of Gilbert because of it. I think that was an error on my part. He is well prepared in and in shape, so it won't be easy. But I'm more focused on my effort and where I have to be before the Cauberg, and on the Cauberg, and how fast I need to be climbing it. I'm not really thinking about where Gilbert, or other contenders like Tim Wellens or Michael Matthews, might be in relation to before, on, or after the Cauberg. I'm thinking about myself and what I need to do. As I said, you have to be flexible. They say there will be a tailwind on the Cauberg, which helps for sure the rider who can be alone on the top of the Cauberg. There is a better chance of arriving solo at the final with a tailwind, but anything can happen. Of course I have to have good legs in the final to even consider the situation of going for the victory. I think I have prepared as best I could to be in good condition and be part of the actions for the finale. I just came from Pais Vasco, which is a really difficult parcours and is hard to really determine where you are ahead of the Ardennes Classics. But I think my preparation going into these races, with races like Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Nice, and Pais Vasco, put me in the right direction to be ready for Amstel Gold Race tomorrow."more information
Etixx - Quick-Step rider and defending Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra answered select questions asked by fans on the team Facebook page. His replies are below!
Sarah Young: Which cyclist did you idolise when you were growing up and most wanted to be like?
Niki: Cipollini. He was a great rider, and always had something new with the jerseys and the outfits. Now everybody has something hi-vis yellow or something like that. But back then it was cool. It was stylish. He was the first one.
Paxton Hyde: Niki, what is your favorite thing to do when you're not cycling?
Niki: Car racing, and playing with the kids.
Troy Collett: How much doyou eat and drink during the race and how do you recover after burning close to 10,000 calories?
Niki: I'd say on average we have about four Etixx Sports Nutrition gels and eight Etixx Sports Nutrition bars. When I come home I've got a beer in the fridge (laughs).
James CobLb what did it feel like to ride into the velodrome alone and cross the line in Roubaix last year?
Niki: It was a great feeling to finally win that cobble, It was incredible.
Zachary Slavens How has your track background benefited your road season, and do you for see more riders returning to the track?
Niki: For me it's a good preparation in the winter, and also a good thing to stay in shape during the winter. I really like to do it, the Six-days. I think it's a good way to start the season, as I also race Six Days of Rotterdam in January.
Richard Powell What's on your playlist whilst warming up?
Niki: Some hard house music!
Thomas Forde: Seriously though, do you ride by the numbers or by the feeling in your heart and mind?
Niki: Most of the time I don't have any sensor on my bike, so I go purely by my feeling.
Spencer Ralston What is your one guilty pleasure? Candy? Beer? Not shaving your legs everyday?
Niki: Good eating. I take a little too much portion wise. It's not anything specific. A good Dutch Croquette is a good example of something I like to eat, and a little too much of it.
Akari Yamamoto: Niki, I'm wishing you success in the coming Paris-Roubaix just like last year . Let me ask you a question: with whom do you like sharing a room the best in your team and why?
Niki: With Iljo Keisse. We are comfortable with each other on the road and also when we ride together in the Six-Days. He's a friend of mine and it's good you can be totally relaxed in the room. If you frequently change roommates it's not always relaxing.
Daniel Aguiar you usually ride on the Venge, why is it your choice? thanks
Niki: Because it's so aerodynamic. I like the behavior of the bike, but also my strength is to be in the breakaway. Then you need to be as aerodynamic as possible. So the bike really suits my riding style.
Tinneke Ceulemans Do you remember your very first race you won? How old were you? Did you ever believe back then you could become such a great rider like you are today?
Niki: I was eight years old and I still remember it. It was at my home bike club. I was just riding for fun at the time and didn't think about the future as it is now. But it felt good to win, that's for sure!
Isaac Onions: If you were to give any advice to anyone who wants to be a pro, what would it be?
Niki: If you really want to do it, if it is really your passion, you have to go 100 percent for it. This isn't something you can go for half-heartedly. It's a full commitment.
Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team today announces a renewal of its long-standing sponsorship by Quick-Step, a trendsetting manufacturer and distributor of hardwood, laminate and luxury vinyl flooring The contract, which was set to expire at the end of the current season, will be extended for another two years, until the end of the 2017 season.
On the eve of the Tour of Flanders, the spotlights are once again on team manager Patrick Lefevere's World Tour cycling team. With five victories in the last ten editions of this mythical classic, the Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team hopes to add another prize to its trophy cabinet. In this light, the news about Quick-Step renewing its commitment to the team comes as a welcome boost for its talent-packed roster.
A mutually beneficial partnership
Quick-Step's love of cycling started in 1999 when the flooring division of the UNILIN Group entered the peloton as co-sponsor of the Mapei – Quick-Step Cycling Team. Four seasons later, in 2003, Quick-Step stepped up this commitment when it became one of the main sponsors of cycling team of Patrick Lefevere. The 12 seasons since then have been a success on all fronts. While Patrick Lefevere forged one of the strongest teams in professional cycling history, Quick-Step gradually raised worldwide awareness about its brand.
"Quick-Step has been there since the very start of our team", says Etixx - Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere. "I believe our loyal and mutually beneficial partnership with Quick-Step is one of the most powerful in cycling. Quick-Step is part of the DNA of this team. Together we have written some great pages in cycling history and I'm sure there will be more to come throughout the next two years. We're proud to have two main sponsors with a profile that is so similar to that of our team: Belgian roots, but with an international impact and likewise recognition. We'd like to thank Quick-Step for their continued trust in us, as a team and as an important way to increase their brand awareness."
Sharing the desire to win
Paul De Cock, President at UNILIN, division flooring, explains the chemistry between Quick-Step and the world of cycling: "Over the past sixteen seasons, our international sponsoring strategy has been pivotal in enhancing the reputation of our brand. I don't think that we could have ever found a better match than this one. The resolve of Niki Terpstra, the sheer power of Tom Boonen, the elegance of Michal Kwiatkowski ... I think the perfect rider has a lot in common with a Quick-Step floor: a fine blend of robustness and style. What's more, we share with the team a common passion for design and innovation as well as an eye for the smallest details."
Since the team welcomed Czech businessman and cycling aficionado Zdenek Bakala on board in 2011, the team has been stronger than ever. De Cock: "His drive and commitment to make a lasting impact on the world of cycling have been an inspiration to all of us at Quick-Step. We look forward to the coming years. Not only do we have some of the most talented riders of the pack, we also have an outstanding staff and top-notch infrastructure in place. I am sure this partnership will continue to prove a successful one, both for the team, and for Quick-Step as a leading flooring brand."
The signing of the sponsorship contract! @QuickStepFloor @PatLefevere pic.twitter.com/gr6JiCGDDW— Etixx - Quick-Step (@Etixx_QuickStep) April 3, 2015