Sports Director & Trainer
Tom Steels has perhaps the largest palmares of all the Etixx – Quick-Step Sport Directors: Two-time Gent-Wevelgem winner, 4 Time Belgian Champion, 9-time Stage winner of Le Tour de France. These are just a few examples of why Tom can provide plenty of expertise on how to win races.
“If you’ve done something for 15 years, you know a big part of it,” Steels said. “Of course the sport evolves over time, but we can teach them a lot on tactical skills and though races can change, they are still very similar. The more you learned year-by-year, the more you can give them a head start based on what you experience. You can protect them or guide them in a good direction, even if that means you don’t know everything with the sport these days. “
Steels is known as a Sport Director for his dedicated and methodical preparation before races with things like reconnaissance. “At the beginning of the season, and the big tours, there are specific races where you better know the roads,” Steels said. “Narrow, steep make it important to being in the right position at the right moment. Knowing the wind direction. You better do your homework well so that you are prepared and the riders have a clear view what they can expect from that race. But I also love to do it. You video tape it, you write it down. Races with radio you can talk them through it, especially really dangerous points. It’s an important job, and one I like doing.”
Steels said the team has an excellent staff, that is sometimes underestimated in terms of its value with the riders. “Not just the Sport Directors, but the soigneurs who have a lot of contact with the riders and the mechanics, who have to work with bikes always under pressure and also have a lot of contact with the riders. It’s better that these guys stick together and work together as a team. If something goes wrong, then the consequences fall directly on to the riders. This is what you want to avoid. So, developing a strong working relationship makes the difference.”