Omega Pharma-Quick Step announced its long-list for the upcoming Tour de France. Development manager, Rolf Aldag, noted that the team will race around sprinter Mark Cavendish for stage wins and its young talent Michal Kwiatkowski for the overall classification.
"Everybody knows our main objectives will be the stage wins with Cavendish and a new experience in the Tour with Kwiatkowski, to make another improvement, a new step in his career," Aldag said. "We will build our team around those two guys to be a competitive and strong team in order to try and reach our goals."
Cavendish showed good form in the early season after he secured stage wins at the Volta ao Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of Turkey and Tour of California, where he expressed his ambition to win the Tour’s green jersey in July.
Kwiatkowski was on track to lead his team at the Tour, however, he is currently undergoing testing to try and determine why he has had substandard performances recently. He pulled out of the Critérium du Dauphiné before the start of the penultimate stage after having lost more than 10 minutes in the overall classification.
He has shown promise as an overall contender after he finished 11th overall and third in the white jersey competition in the Tour last year. This year, he won the Strade Bianche, the Tour of Romandie prologue and was on the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Jan Bakelants, who won stage 2 at the Tour de France last year, has shown his top form after recently winning the sixth stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Aldag noted that the final nine-man roster won't be decided until the conclusion of the Tour de Suisse. "We want to see how things will be there first, and be sure everybody is healthy and ready for the competition,"he said.
World time trial champion, Tony Martin, who won the opening time trial at the Tour de Suisse and has continued to lead the race through the first three stages, is among the riders listed for the Tour de France.
Tom Boonen, who has had wins at the Baloise Belgium Tour, Tour of Qatar and a series of top 10s during the Spring Classics including a win at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, is on the list but will assume a reserve spot on the team.
"We appreciate the availability also of a guy like Tom Boonen," Aldag said. "He's the only one who knows already he will be one of the reserves. He shows again that he is a great professional and he really cares about this team. We know we can count on him if we need him at the very last moment."
Classics specialist Niki Terpstra, who won Paris-Roubaix in April, is also on the list along with Matteo Trentin, Martin Velits, Michal Golas, Mark Renshaw, Alessandro Petacchi and Gert Steegmans.
"All 13 names are important," Aldag said. "Those guys showed to the team great commitment whether they will be in the final selection of nine or not. They are all ready and fit for the race."
Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Tour de France long-list: Jan Bakelants (Belgium), Tom Boonen (Belgium), Mark Cavendish (Great Britain), Thomas De Gendt (Belgium), Michal Golas (Poland), Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland), Tony Martin (Germany), Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), Mark Renshaw (Australia), Gert Steegmans (Belgium), Niki Terpstra (Nederlands), Matteo Trentin (Italy) and Martin Velits (Slovakia).