Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to World TTT Championships
This Sunday, Austria will host one of the most important races of the season.
For one last time, the trade teams will battle for glory and medals at the World TTT Championships, scheduled in Innsbruck, and Quick-Step Floors – the only squad to have won the event on three occasions (2012, 2013 and 2016) – will field an outfit consisting of three former winners – Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert and Niki Terpstra – who will be joined on the start line by neo-pro Kasper Asgreen, Laurens De Plus and Maximilian Schachmann, all riders who have impressed in this season's races against the clock, be it at the Nationals, in Grand Tours or at the European Championships.
Sports director Tom Steels, the man who guided the team to an impressive haul of five medals between 2012 and 2016, shared his opinion on the route of the 62.8km race – the longest since the discipline was introduced at the World Championships, six years ago – which will take the teams from the Ötztal valley to Innsbruck.
"It's a challenging course this year, starting with 40 kilometers of flat roads, where you really need to have the big engines that can drive a high speed. After this long section, you tackle 5 kilometers of climbing, which means the guys need to be able to hold on uphill too – and we even need to have a few guys who can set a high tempo. Our roster is therefore a balance between riders who can go fast on the climbs on a TT bike and are quite strong on the flat as well, and heavier guys, who are very good on the flat and will suffer more uphill. It's not a very technical route, but after the hill, especially in the last 5-6 kilometers, we will face sections with traffic islands and roundabouts, which require more focus from the guys to keep a good rhythm in the relay. It will be fast though and we will have to go flat out after the climb until the finish."
Valkenburg, Florence and Doha have an important thing in common: all three have witnessed a Quick-Step Floors victory at the World Team Time Trial Championships, and Tom Steels hopes that Innsbruck – a former center of European politics and culture and two-time host of the Winter Olympics – will be added to the list on Sunday afternoon, although he is well aware that the competition will be a fierce one.
"The Worlds TTT is a discipline that means a lot for Quick-Step Floors, we have won it three times and have always been up there in the top, so of course we hope we can finish with a strong result in what will be the last edition for trade teams, although we know it's not going to be easy", explained Steels. "We have a solid roster comprising riders who rate this appointment as one of the most important races of the season and are ready to give everything out there. It's a pity that the time trial for trade teams is coming to an end, but we are motivated for this final edition and we will go for the best."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images