GIANTS OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP TO MAKE FIRST APPEARANCE AT LTDL
5 February 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, TUESDAY - The current holders of the world champion title for team time trial Omega Pharma-Quick Step will make their debuts at Le Tour de Langkawi when the race will kick off on February 21st following the colourful presentation on the Paradisiacal Malaysian island.
As a team manager of Italy¡¯s Mapei, Patrick Lef¨¦v¨¨re used to send his champions to conquer three overall titles with Gabriele Missaglia in 1998, Paolo Lanfranchi in 1999 and 2001, but this will be a first time for his squad registered in Belgium since 2003.
¡°When you look at the achievements of Omega Pharma-Quick Step through the whole season, it¡¯s a huge honour for our country to have them racing in Malaysia, they¡¯re the equivalent of Ferrari in the Formula 1¡±, said Le Tour de Langkawi chief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal.
¡°Our management realized a lack of racing days for some riders at this time of the season last year¡±, explained the team¡¯s road captain Serge Pauwels. ¡°Those ten days competing in Malaysia will be perfect for us, even though most of us know nothing of the country except from our stopovers in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on our way to Australia. When I raced for Cerv¨¦lo in 2009, I heard many positive comments from my team-mates about Le Tour de Langkawi. I¡¯m looking forward to discover the event.¡±
Pauwels just finished the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide on 20 th position overall, which is a good sign of his early season form. He¡¯s staying in Australia for training until Le Tour de Langkawi.
¡°Two and half weeks mean a long time away from home but we want to perform well in Malaysia¡±, the Belgian continued. ¡°Avoiding long trips and jet lags is the best way to produce result.¡±
Two riders from Omega Pharma-Quick Step are on the same program, Pauwels¡¯ companion being British sprinter Andrew Fenn who finished fourth in the bunch sprint finish of stage 4 at the Santos Tour Down Under.
¡°I¡¯m attracted by the flat stages of Le Tour de Langkawi¡±, Fenn explained. ¡°I¡¯ll try and win at least one stage. I¡¯m in good shape again. I¡¯m usually doing well at the beginning and the end of the seasons.¡± One year ago, he won two legs of the Mallorca challenge in Spain in February.
He¡¯s not as famous as his compatriot and new team-mate Mark Cavendish yet but he¡¯s definitely a good sprinter in the making.
¡°We have big hopes to perform on GC as well¡±, added Pauwels, citing the climbing skills of all four other members of the OPQS line up. Having finished 13th overall at last year¡¯s Giro d¡¯Italia, Italy¡¯s Gianluca Brambilla is a true underdog for the individual title that will be awarded in Kuala Terengganu.
It¡¯ll be very interesting to also see the pro debuts of Spanish prodigy Carlos Verona who is only 20 years old. ¡°Shall we take the lead in the Cameron Highlands, we¡¯ll have a good team to defend the yellow jersey¡±, announced a very enthusiastic Pauwels.
The LTdL 2013, which carries the slogan "The Heat is On", will officially begin in Kangar on February 21 and the race comprises 10 stages, covering 1469.7 kilometres.
The race is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as a 2.HC (hors category) race on the UCI Asia Tour calendar, organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, via the National Sports Council (NSC) in association with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).
THE OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP TEAM FOR 2013 LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI:
Gianluca BRAMBILLA (ITA), Andrew FENN (GBR), Michal GOLAS (POL), Serge PAUWELS
(BEL), Pieter SERRY (BEL) and Carlos VERONA (ESP).