Boonen, Kittel, Tony Martin headline Etixx-QuickStep’s team at Volta ao Algarve
Tom Boonen, Marcel Kittel and Tony Martin will headline a strong Etixx-QuickStep squad at the upcoming Volta ao Algarve, which starts on February 17. The team will also include Yves Lampaert, Fabio Sabatini, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra and Julien Vermote.
Sport director Tom Steels said the race offers the riders a chance to test their early-season form on varied terrain, in preparation for the Spring Classics.
“Algarve is an excellent race to test the whole set of skills a rider has. You have two bunch sprints, which aren’t very easy, two uphill finishes and an individual time trial. The riders will get the opportunity to show their condition there. The most important thing about Algarve is that it’s an up-and-down race, which makes it the ideal preparation for the Classics.”
Steels also believes that Martin could wind up in contention for the overall classification, while Kittel will target the sprints.
“Tony has stage 3 to show himself, but until then we’ll follow him on the first uphill finish. He can get involved in the fight for the GC, it’s not impossible, but it will be difficult, considering the competition, so we’re not putting any pressure on him.
“Marcel will be our rider for the flat stages, but Algarve won’t be about just one man, because we have a lot of options to go for a nice result with the guys who are preparing the Classics.”
Arashiro breaks left femur at Tour of Qatar
Lampre-Merida’s Yukiya Arashiro suffered the worst of a crash that happened early during the finale of stage 5 at the Tour of Qatar on Friday. He was transported to hospital, where doctors confirmed he sustained a broken femur.
The crash happened just five kilometres into the day’s 114km stage from Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche.
Arashiro crashed and hit his left leg on the ground, according to a statement from Lampre-Merida. “He was transported to the nearest hospital, where an x-ray revealed that the thigh bone suffered a fracture.
“The team's physician, Dr. Pollastri, is cooperating with the hospital staff in order to organize the assistance to Arashiro.”
It wasn’t the first accident for the Lampre-Merida team. Matej Mohoric crashed in the first stage and broke his elbow, which required surgery to correct.
Lampre-Merida sprinter Sacha Modolo finished off the day's stage in fifth place and 11th overall, 1:12 behind overall winner Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).
Wanty-Groupe Gobert's Roy Jans third in Tour of Qatar's final stage
Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Roy Jans reached his second stage podium Friday at the Tour of Qatar, finishing third behind stage winner Alexander Kristoff 9Katusha) and overall race winner Mark Cavendish.
“I think more would have been possible today," Jans said. "I sprinted from the wheel of Hutarovich and was already at full speed when I had to go around Kristoff's lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri. I didn't need to hit the brakes but skipped one pedal turn."
On the local laps the speed went up from the 40km/h stage average and Wanty-Groupe Gobert worked well together to protect the team’s sprinter. At the beginning of the last lap the team took command at the front of the peloton with Björn Thurau, birthday boy Simone Antonini and the rest of the team.
“The team did a fantastic job today. I am really, really happy with how we work together at the moment. Robin Stenuit and Danilo Napolitano were with me in the final 1.5 kilometres. Unfortunately Kenny Dehaes lost me in the last turn. He would have been a great help in the final, I am sure."
Jans' two podium places in Qatar provde a nice confidence boost ahead of his first big goal of the season: Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
“My form is good but it's not top yet,” he said. “Next week we race in Oman and then there is resting at home. That's the final step to take towards a top condition.”
Marcel Kittel talks about his successful return at the Dubai Tour - Video
It's no secret that Etixx-quickStep sprinter Marcel Kittel had a rough go if it in 2015, but the German fastman returned with a new team this season and kicked things into high gear with a stage 1 win at the Dubai Tour. Kittel won two stages and the overall classification in Dubai, along with the sprinter's jersey. In this six-minute video produced by his team he talks about the challenges he faced in 2015 and his return to form and the podium's top step let week.