Etixx-QuickStep gathered at the Eddy Merckx Velodrome in Gent on Tuesday to officially launch the 2016 team in front of sponsors and fans.
The entire team was present for the launching except for South Americans Ariel Richese, Fernando Gaviria and Rodrigo Contreras; the six-rider Tour Down Under squad, and Niki Terpstra, who is competing at the Rotterdam Six Day.
“For us riders this event is really special,” said Tom Boonen. “We like the idea of presenting ourselves to our sponsors, to their clients and to our fans with a reunion on the track, on our bikes. It’s a dynamic presentation in which the team and the bikes are the stars. Also, the public is really close to the track. It’s wonderful to feel the warmth and cheers coming from the crowd.”
The evening event included a series of races on the track where the riders challenged each other in a cycling exhibition. The races were especially exciting for track specialist Iljo Keisse.
“In the team we’ve already been talking about it for the last few days,” Keisse said in astate,ent released by the team before the presentation. “The newcomers to the team will be surprised by the cheers and the experience of the attending public. It’s going to be a lot of fun, as it has been in the last several years. I’m looking forward to dedicating a few ‘wheelies’ to our guests.”
Etixx-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere said the presentation was an important public relations moment for the team’s partners and their clients, providing a chance to see the team live before the riders and staff are consumed by the race season.
“For us it is also a way to thank them for their support throughout the season,” Lefevere said. “Of course, it’s also a great opportunity for our supporters, at least for those who live in Belgium or nearby. For all the others there will be some fantastic photos and a video review of the event, which will be released in the days following the presentation and in which they will be able to relive the magical atmosphere of this event.”