Quick-Step Floors Team to the World TTT Championships
A strong, experienced and motivated squad will take on the 42.5km-long race in Bergen.
Since the team time trial for trade teams was introduced at the World Championships back in 2012, Quick-Step Floors were always in the fight for the medals and on three occasions came out on top – 2012 (Valkenburg), 2013 (Firenze) and 2016 (Doha) – in addition to these memorable victories taking two more sets of medals, bronze in Ponferrada and silver one year later, in Richmond.
This season, the race will be held in Norway, between the small town of Askøy and Bergen, the second-largest city of the country, on one of the toughest courses in the event's short history: cobbles, narrow and rolling roads, two hard climbs – Loddefjord (600m, 10%) and Birkelundsbakken (3km, 6%) – and tricky descents, the 42.5km-long race scheduled on Sunday has all the ingredients to be the most spectacular and hard-fought TTT of the season, as it will constantly test the teams who'll go for gold in the Scandinavian Peninsula.
Niki Terpstra, one of the only three riders to have won a hat-trick of titles, will race the World TTT Championships for the sixth consecutive year, with three other riders from last edition's winning team set to join him: Giro d'Italia maglia bianca Bob Jungels, Vuelta a España stage winner Yves Lampaert and the relentless Julien Vermote. Rounding out the six-man squad for Norway are Kiwi powerhouse Jack Bauer and Philippe Gilbert, the first rider in over two decades to win a cobbled Monument and an Ardennes Classic in the same season. Laurens De Plus, who's been selected to ride the ITT for Belgium, will be the first reserve.
"We come here with a very strong and well-prepared team, built around experienced riders and former champions of the discipline, so we are quite confident in our chances of getting another good result. We trained really hard for this, in the past weeks we simulated on many occasions the Bergen parcours and I could see that the guys were ready for it, so I'm confident they'll show their determination and motivation on the road when it will matter", said Tom Steels.
Quick-Step Floors' sport director, who'll accompany the team from behind the wheel, offered his take on the challenging parcours in Norway: "It's up and down, a roller coaster which doesn't allow you to make any mistakes. There's no meter of flat, it's totally different than what we had last year in Qatar, and the weather could play a crucial role in the outcome, as the rain can turn the fast descents into a skating rink. And let's not forget the 400m-long cobblestone stretch placed not far from the finish, which can also impact on the race. This being said, it's a race where the strength and cohesion of the team will be key factors at the end of the day."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele