De Maar was forced to abandon the Tour of Romandie with a urinary tract infection that had left him feeling fatigued. The last few weeks have been spent in high-intensity training in a big for fitness before the Critérium du Dauphiné.
"The objective is to try to ride a good race," said DS Tom Steels. "There will also be some veterans from the Giro d'Italia on the team, and we're counting on the conditioning they acquired during the pink race. We're lining up for the start with two young guys, Jan Tratnik and Julien Vermote, who just finished a two-week, high altitude retreat with other riders from the team in Font Romeu, in the Pyrenees. It will be interesting to see how Julien adapts to the race after the specific work we did in the mountains."
Neo pro Vermote joined the team at the start of the season from Quick Step's satellite outfit, Team Beveren 2000.
"Finally, I can get back to racing," explained Maes. "It's hard to stay away from competition for so long. After the fall I had to rest for five weeks, now I've been working out for about six weeks. I started slowly, because I still had a few aches and pains but now the situation has definitely improved. I still have a few twinges, but I know everything will be better in these next few weeks.
"Now I'm really stoked to race. After the Tour De Rijke I should be riding in the Ster Elektrotoer, too. Of course, I'm not going to be taking any risks on Sunday. In the last kilometres of the race I intend to kick back in the back of the peloton and I'll enjoy the final from afar, only this time in the group."
Quick Step team for the Critérium du Dauphiné: Marco Bandiera, Andy Cappelle, Dario Cataldo, Marc de Maar, Francesco Reda, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Jan Tratnik, Julien Vermote.
Quick Step team for the Tour De Rijke: Francesco Chicchi, Nikolas Maes, Fréderique Robert, Andreas Stauff, Kevin Van Impe, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck.