Gianni Meersman and reigning world time trial champion Tony Martin will make their European debut at the upcoming Challenge Mallorca series. The four-day event marks the first race for the majority of the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step riders with Meersman, Martin and Michal Golas expected to do well on the more selective days. The four-day event allows for a roster of up to 10-riders which can be rotated throughout the various races.
The team arrives without a dedicated sprinter which after the successful showing of neo-pro Andy Fenn in 2012, may hurt the team’s chances for victory. Fenn won the Trofeo Palma and Trofeo Migjorn just months after taking a bronze medal at the U23 world road race championships early last year.
Instead, there’s a mix of riders who can battle for the win from smaller bunch finishes with new recruit Gianni Meersman amongst the quickest in the team. The squad has been preparing itself over the past week and has already pinpointed the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and Trofeo Platja de Muro as best suiting the team's characteristics.
"We have been here since the 24th," said sports director Tom Steels. "We will do a few good training rides before the race in the next days. We already did reconnaissance for one of the stages. In the next days we will do other stage parcour training. Mallorca is the first race in Europe, and the riders really want to race. Now it is time to ride. Last year we came here with Andy Fenn and he won two stages.
"This year we don't have a sprinter, so we will have a good chance in the 3rd and 4th stages, the up and down days, with Meersman, Martin, Golas, and other riders who have the possibility to do well. We will try our best to get a good result for the team."
The OPQS team for the upcoming Challenge Mallorca from 3-6 February is: Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Michal Golas (Pol), Tony Martin (Ger), Gianni Meersman (Bel), Pieter Serry (Bel), Kristof Vandewalle (Bel), Julien Vermote (Bel), Carlos Verona (Spa) and Kevin De Wert (Bel).