Etixx - Quick-Step to Tour of Qatar
Etixx - Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Tour of Qatar, a 784.4km stage race from February 8th until February 13th. The race is known for its flat stages, but also its winds that can change the scenario of any stage, at any time.
Tom Boonen, who has won the most stages in the history of the race (22), and also the most overall (four), is included in the 2015 Tour of Qatar selection. He won two stages in 2014. Etixx - Quick-Step was dominant as a team also in the 2014 edition, winning three stages. Niki Terpstra won the overall after winning Stage 1 and never losing his race leadership. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck also took home the Best Young Rider jersey.
Boonen will also be racing for the first time this season, and after becoming a father of two twin girls on January 17th.
"I had good training in the last weeks," Boonen said. "I am happy about how it went. I went also to training camp in Calpe in the last week of January. The level was high there, so this was important for the condition. Most of the riders of the Calpe training camp are the same riders who will be at Qatar. The team is really motivated. It's the first race of the season for me and a lot of riders, so I am excited about it. It's a hard race, but we are also used to that. As usual we will have a couple windy days where you can make or break the race. This year there is also an ITT. There will be a lot of good competitors there, such as Bradley Wiggins, who can be good in the time trial and the echelons. But Etixx - Quick-Step is also very good in the echelons, and we will see what we can do to take advantage of the windy stages. As for the birth of my two girls, I am super happy and excited about the birth of my little princesses. Everything is going well. The girls are healthy, which is the most important thing. They will give me extra motivation to try to achieve other goals already in the first part of the season. It's a special feeling to become a father."
"I cannot hide that this race for me is a special race," Niki Terpstra said. "Last year it was the first of a series of good performances that culminated with Paris-Roubaix. I had a good season after that as well. I really hope this year to get into the race and start having the same feeling I had last year. To be honest I feel OK. This winter I trained really well, and I'm motivated as all the guys are in this team. Qatar is a race where we have a great tradition of success. So, we will try to do something good again, because our selection is strong as usual. Last year i was in a breakaway and took immediately an advantage. The parcours this year is a little bit like last year, so the important thing is to be focused at the start and to pay attention always. At this race after 2 or 3 corners, if you are not awake, you miss the first echelons and your race is gone. We'll try to stay focused and try to take advantage and do the best race as we can."