OPQS Ronde van Vlaanderen Press Conference
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team met with the press on Friday, March 29th to discuss Ronde van Vlaanderen, which takes place on March 31st. Below are some quotes from riders Sylvain Chavanel, Tom Boonen, and Niki Terpstra, as well as CEO Patrick Lefevere.
"Cancellara in a good shape, so he'll be the guy to beat along with Sagan and Team Sky of course," Boonen said of the competitors. "Don't forget them they also have a very strong team. But other guys, maybe they will able to get more freedom than we have, so they are dangerous teams as well."
"It's not the same as it was last year, but it's not looking that bad either," Boonen said of his condition. "During the circumstances I think the team and I made a lot of progression the last few weeks. We will see on Sunday if it was enough and if it was on time to get a result in the race, but I did the maximum possible to get here and I can't expect anything more. I think after last year this is really not a bad circumstance. If I had the same level as last year it would be very hard to carry the race. Now it's a little bit different, but I don't think I will get any freedom if I try to escape in the final. I'm not in my best condition, but anything is possible. I've won races with less condition than this."
"Nobody is unstoppable," Boonen said of Peter Sagan's recent success. "It only seems like that. Of course Sagan is a very dangerous guy to have with you in the final. He's fast at the finish line. It's nearly impossible to drop him on the last two climbs, the Kwaremont or the Paterberg. He's probably the guy who can climb the Paterberg the fastest, but after the Paterberg there is still 13km to go. We don't have the big favorites. We have a lot of strong riders. I think it's important to keep the team together and be smart. Don't try to be the strongest. Try to be the smartest."
"I feel good and I'm ready to do a good race," Chavanel said of his condition. "The team is really strong and balanced but also the competitors are fearsome. We don't have to focus only on two riders but pay attention also to other riders. Here we have all the best riders of the world for this kind of competition. In any case it will be a great race once again. I'm expecting a difficult race with as usual a big fight to take the climbs in the first positions. As a team our goal is to try to win and we will do our best to get the result. We will have to play also tactically. I love this race, all the things around are great. The public, the entire country who lives this race, the competitions...I can't wait to take the start of this race."
"He is really enthusiastic on the bike," Terpstra said of Peter Sagan. "If somebody attacks he is immediately on the wheel. He is strong enough for that. It's a tough opponent, especially for Sunday. Now we see the last weeks two top favorites with Cancellara and Sagan, other teams will have to carry the race now and we can lay low for a while. We have to be there in the final. But we have an experienced team. We know how to ride a final. We know the roads perfectly and maybe it will help on Sunday. As for who compares to Sagan, I think last year there was a strong Belgian guy in the Classics who almost won everything. He's here on our team actually. That's Tom Boonen."
"It's clear that today the situation is totally different than last year," Lefevere said of the tactical comparison between OPQS at the Ronde in 2012 to 2013. "We've seen even in the last days, Sylvain, since Sanremo and even Paris-Nice he is in good shape. Niki has always been there when we needed him as well. So, I think the team is very strong. Stybar, Kwiatkowski are strong also, all eight of them really. Even Stijn Vandenbergh — I may not name names, but I think six of them are really able to do the final. It's up to us to find the key to beat the others."
"I think those roads have no secrets any more for the riders," Lefevere said of the familiarity with the Belgian roads. "Especially the guys here. Like always it is the riders who make the race and they will decide how the final will be. I expect that the best riders will be at the front in the right moment."
"They were always free to do their own race if it's fixed in the tactic," Lefevere said of Chavanel and Terpstra. "If you are in the final — we don't have to race on Sunday to be in the front. We have to race to win. To win, they might not be taking wild risks. We have riders to make the race tough. For sure if Sylvain or Niki is in the lead with Sagan and Pozzato who are on paper faster in the sprint, it's not up to them to ride with them to the finish. We have several chances if it's possible. But in an ideal world you have to go along. You can make 50 tactics, but with a massive crash your tactic is wrong. So it's based on provision."