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Belgian team wants more victories in Middle East and Portugal
Omega Pharma-Quick Step has announced its line-ups for the next stage races, the Tour of Oman (starting Tuesday, February 14) and the Volta ao Algarve (starting Wednesday, February 15). The Belgian team has just finished the Tour of Qatar, where Tom Boonen won the general classification as well as two stages, and is now targeting the Tour of Oman with a slightly different line-up due to the hillier terrain.
"After our lucky spell in Qatar we're going to try to do well in Oman, too," said Sports Director Wilfried Peeters, who announced that top lead-out man Gert Steegmans would now be supported by Boonen for the sprints.
"For the finishes adapted to sprinters, we're going to call on Steegmans. Gert was a fundamental pillar for Boonen's victory in Qatar; now it will be his turn to try and win a stage.
"For the general classification we can count on Sylvain Chavanel, who was already a major player in Argentina and on Peter Velits, although he hasn't raced as much as Sylvain. After the success in Qatar it would be exceptional to grab at least one stage success in nearby Oman," Peeters said.
The team will also be at the start line of the 38th edition of the Volta ao Algarve, where Tony Martin will try to defend his 2011 title.
"The Algarve will be Tony Martin's first stage race in 2012," said Sports Director Rik Van Slycke. "It will be important to understand to which point Tony is ready for the next races. The race features an uphill finish, but this shouldn't make a difference for the men who are jostling for the general classification. A 25,8 km time trial on the last day on a flat circuit will favour a time trial man with Martin's skills.
The German will be joined by a versatile team including his fellow countryman Gerald Ciolek. "On the team we can also count on the young Kwiatkowski and on Ciolek, who is pedalling well and who still has some more room to grow. The team is motivated and ready to take to battle on the road," Van Slycke continued.
The full line-up for the Tour of Oman: Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Bert Grabsch, Frantisek Rabon, Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Stijn Vandenbergh and Peter Velits.
Volta ao Algarve: Gerald Ciolek, Dries Devenyns, Michal Kwiatkowski, Nikolas Maes, Tony Martin, Niki Terpstra, Matteo Trentin and Martin Velits