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Lefevere analyses Omega Pharma-Quick Step train failure in Dubai

By:
Stephen Farrand
Published:
February 7, 08:10,
Updated:
February 7, 08:11
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, February 7, 2014
Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) beat Sagan and Phinney

Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) beat Sagan and Phinney

  • Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) beat Sagan and Phinney
  • Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) celebrates his win in Dubai
  • Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
  • Omega Pharma-QuickStep packs quite a punch for sprints courtesy of Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish

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"I think they got a little bit excited in the finale"

Omega Pharma-Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere watched the stage two sprint finish of the Dubai Tour in the media tent close to the finish. He could only hold his breath and then shrug in slight disappointment as the team became derailed in the hectic final as riders fought a stiff cross wind and fought even more for position.

The experienced Belgian team manager has seen his riders win and lose hundreds of races over the years and did not appear worried to see Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) win the stage, while Mark Cavendish eased up after being left too far back in the final five hundred metres.

"This is the first sprint that these guys have done together and I think they got a little bit excited in the finale because they were already leading the peloton with 11km to go," Lefevere told Cyclingnews.

"In the meeting before the stage, I think I understood that we'd pull as late as possible. We maybe got too nervous and excited and did too much too early."

Lefevere confirmed that Mark Renshaw was due to lead out Cavendish, with Alessandro Petacchi and Tony Martin doing a vital turn before Renshaw.

"There was a little confusion after the turn but Tony [Martin] went to pull. However Sagan was already in front of Mark [Cavendish], I think on Renshaw's wheel and that affected things. But we didn’t see the sprint from the helicopter on television. That's the only way you can really understand what happened."

Lefevere said Omega Pharma-Quick Step would debrief after the sprint, even without helicopter images. He dismissed the side winds coming of the sea could have affected his riders more than others.

"It was windy for the others too," he said. 'We'll debrief and talk to the riders but it's not a big deal. They need some more time to work on getting things right. But we know we've got a good lead out and a good sprinter in Mark. Our turn will come."

Hill Special 1980 6 months ago
How do teams train for sprints? I've been following the sport for 25 years but never really gave this much thought. To shrug the shoulders because ''This is the first sprint that these guys have done together'' seems kind of unprofessional really....is it possible to replicate the real conditions of a sprint finish in a training environment? Do they do it?
Mirco Bertolani 6 months ago
I don't even know why Lefevre has spent time explaining to the journalist why the train didn't work properly for a 120km stage of the tour of Dubai. Next week nobody will remember who was the winner.
Hill Special 1980 6 months ago
fair point, i guess the decision to give it everything at all costs or accept defeat and sit up is a very different on in February to July
essaye 6 months ago
They practice lead-outs, but I don't know if they do a simulation of a race (with other trains interfering and having to alter tactics)... I think there was a feature on Kittel's train and the practice they do, last year...
Uncle_Tod 6 months ago
They just ride them in training as you see it in the actual race, they ride their train at full speed on an open road, every man pulls for 150-300 meters depending on how far out they are from a set point and then each man peels off and the next guy takes over building up more and more speed right until the leadout man ramps it up all the way and sprints himself to let the even faster sprinter take over... the best leadout men usually are formidable sprinters themselves but lacking the speed to finish off the job.
Justin O'Pinion 6 months ago
Well put. There's also the element of intuitiveness (if that's actually a word) which comes in to play as they've done it so much over their racing careers. It's hard to teach riders the art of following wheels, especially near the end of a race when the pace is so frenetic.
PCM Geek 6 months ago
I'm not worried about this. They are all professionals and they have the talent. I think they just need to participate in more races. Working as a team they will gain the experience necessary. Once they get that and each individual knows what he's supposed to do and also knows what his team mates are doing then it will work out. I look forward to seeing Cav raise his arms in victory many times this season...
Daniel Norton 6 months ago
Some of the sprint teams do practice lead outs. However they can't replicate a mass sprint in training and even if they did riders would not take the risks in a training sprint that riders do in a race. That is why experience or sometimes even naive risk taking by youngsters can win a sprint.
Hill Special 1980 6 months ago
I'm sure they could get some volunteers to sprint against them for practice...they might have to handicap the ProTeam riders by filling their water bottles with lead though
HailPantani 6 months ago
No excuses. The OPQS alleged 'leadout team' were average last season from Scheldeprijs onwards, and they were average yesterday. Progress?
ianfra 6 months ago
Different riders this year.
HailPantani 6 months ago
Same result.
runninboy 6 months ago
oh yes because February everyone is at their physical/mental peak. A good leadout takes coordination of the riders involved. Not just in the timing, but the little things. for instance how you remove a rider who has jumped in your train, as Sagan did. Here is a hint, you do not provide a leadout for another teams rider. So the guy ahead of Sagan backs off the train swings over in front of Cav who moves into Renshaws spot then renshaw acclerates and gets back ahead of Cav who let's him in. That is just one way to discard a rider. With the crosswind there might have been some confusion. But by all means judge the team by one of the first races of the season. rolls eyes....
HailPantani 6 months ago
I'm not judging by this race alone. Since Scheldeprijs 2013 OPQS have been average at best when leading out Cavendish. Argos and Lotto were far better last year and the signs are there for this year as well. As regards OPQS, they have new personnel in the sprint train but the result appears to be the same ................... With Kittel in phenomenal form, Cav needs more support than he has, and is, getting.
climb4fun 6 months ago
It looked kind of like a NFL preseason game. Teams were trying different tactics and configurations and Giant went with their "A game".
Matt Campbell 6 months ago
Has anyone analysed Mark;s sprint success in short stages which are unlikely to take the sting out of Marcel or other of the big sprinters ?