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Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider chasing the podium
Having conquered Paris-Roubaix last Sunday thanks to a solo ride by Niki Terpstra, Omega Pharma-Quick Step now turn their attention to cotes of Amstel Gold Race with last year's fourth place finisher Michal Kwiatkowski looking to step onto the podium in 2014.
The Polish road champion has started the season in great form with overall victory at the Volta ao Algarve, second overall at Tour of the Basque Country as well as victory at two one-day races: Strade Bianche and Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana.
Sport director Wilfried Peeters explained that the team is looking to continue its winnings ways at the 251km race having also tasted success in the Basque country.
"After the success of Sunday at the biggest monument of cycling, we have selected a team once again structured to do well," Peeters said.
"Kwiatkowski was fourth last year and is in a good moment of his season. With Kwiatkowski the team can also count on a guy like Wout Poels, the queen stage winner of Pais Vasco. We did really well at Pais Vasco as a team last week, and therefore it is good for the cohesion of the unit that we also selected Jan Bakelants and Tony Martin, who is returning to the Classics after a few years away, as well as Pieter Serry and Michal Golas.
"These are all consistent riders who know to perform well in a one-day race like this, and their recent performances give us much to be excited about," said Peeters ahead of the first of three race which constitute the Ardennes Classics week.
Having placed fifth on the pavé of Roubaix and been in the mix at the Tour of Flanders, Czech cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar will turn his hand to the Ardennes and gives the team another card to play.
"Of course, there is also Zdenek Stybar. He is the lone rider who participated in the cobblestone classics. He likes this race and the parcours. It's kind of like a Tour of Flanders with hills, but without the cobbled sections. So, it can fit his skills," Peeters said.
With Julian Alaphilippe on its books, the Belgian team has an up-and-coming French talent who made his WorldTour debut at the Tour Down Under in January. With three top-four stage finishes at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, the 21-year-old showed he is far from intimated when rubbing elbows in the professional peloton.
"Last, but not least, there is Julian Alaphilippe. The young French rider has been on the podium multiple times already in his first season as a professional, and he will be able to learn from the experienced guys how to also ride the one-day races. We will do our best for a good result," Peeters said.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step roster for Amstel Gold Race, April 20: Julian Alaphilippe, Jan Bakelants, Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin, Wout Poels, Pieter Serry and Zdenek Stybar.