Busy Sunday for Etixx – Quick-Step
At the end of this week, our team will be in action in two one-day races.
The World Tour counts just a handful of one-day races which give the sprinters a chance to go for glory, and one of these is the Cyclassics Hamburg (217.7 km), the main event of the German calendar. But the beauty of the race held in northern Hamburg resides in the fact that it's also suited to attackers, who can make out of the Waserberg climb the pivotal point of the course, one where they can jump from the pack and spread panic in a peloton which usually needs a few minutes to get organized again and start the chase.
In 2016, the German classic will be a few kilometers shorter than in the previous year, but is again set to include a local circuit, which means the Waserberg will be tackled on several occasions, last time with just 15 kilometers remaining. The pace should be very high as many will try to drop the sprinters, but even if this happens, there's still a strong chance everything will come back together before Mönckebergstrasse, where positioning will be very important in the fight for victory.
Best World Tour sprinter of the season, with no less than 11 victories to his name, Marcel Kittel will be at the start of the Cyclassics Hamburg, his first race since completing the Tour de France, one month ago. Joining the 28-year-old will be multiple Monument winner Tom Boonen, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Davide Martinelli, Fabio Sabatini (the man who stood by Kittel's side in all the races he has won since joining Etixx – Quick-Step), Tour de l'Ain green jersey Matteo Trentin and powerhouse Stijn Vandenbergh.
"I'm returning to racing after a period of rest and training at home following a challenging Tour de France. I am confident and motivated for this race, but it's not going to be just about me, as we have a really strong team, which includes Tom and Matteo, two riders who can do something nice as well. We hope to get a good result, but if you look at the start list you can see many other strong sprinters and the responsibility will be also on their shoulders", said Marcel Kittel ahead of Sunday's Cyclassics Hamburg.
Over the border, in Belgium, a five-man team will race the 50th edition of Grote Prijs Jef Scherens, an event won twice in the past by Etixx – Quick-Step. Starting and finishing in the town of Leuven, home of the the largest and oldest university of the Low Countries, the event poses a hard and demanding parcours, which will see the peloton cover a hilly circuit 12 times.
Etixx – Quick-Step will line up for the 190-km long Belgian race a young squad consisting of Rodrigo Contreras (who's back in action after two months), fellow neo-pro Laurens De Plus, former Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde winner Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Julien Vermote and Lukasz Wisniowski.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele