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Andy Fenn and Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) get the season going at the Santos Tour Down Under
Fenn hunting stages, Brambilla for overall classification
The Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team will make its first appearance at the 2.HC category Tour de Langkawi this year when the race kicks off on 21 February with a 162,7km stage along the east coast of Malaysia. Four riders from the six-man team have most recently finished the Tour Down Under and are using the 10-day Malaysian race to break-up the return to Europe.
The revived event will see five ProTeams on the start line this year, increasing the number of race days for riders who lack competition in the early part of the year.
The six-man Belgian team will be led by Serge Pauwels, who finished 20th-overall at the opening WorldTour race in Australia while Andy Fenn will also look to showcase his sprint in many of the fast-finishing stages.
"Our management realized a lack of racing days for some riders at this time of the season last year", said Serge Pauwels to ltdl.com.my. "Those ten days competing in Malaysia will be perfect for us.
"Two and half weeks mean a long time away from home but we want to perform well in Malaysia", added Pauwels. "Avoiding long trips and jet lags is the best way to produce result."
Second-year professional Fenn will be hunting his first season victory and his third professional win after claiming the Trofeo Palma and Trofeo Migjorn in his neo year in 2012. He came close to a win this year but fell just off the podium in fourth-place on Stage 4 at Down Under.
"I'm attracted by the flat stages of Le Tour de Langkawi", Fenn explained. "I'll try and win at least one stage. I'm in good shape again. I'm usually doing well at the beginning and the end of the seasons."
The team's dark horse for the overall classification could be Gianluca Brambilla, who finished 13th overall at last year's Giro d'Italia. The 25-year-old Italian stepped up to the Omega Pharma ProTeam at the start of 2013 after spending three seasons at Colnago - CSF Inox.
Brambilla is currently racing at the four-day Challenge Mallorca. His best showing came in Wednesday's hilly Trofeo Deia which featured a category 1 climb inside the final 20km. The new recruit has the potential to finish well at Langkawi's decisive Genting Highlands stage.
"We have big hopes to perform on GC as well," said road captain Pauwels.
"Shall we take the lead in the Cameron Highlands, we'll have a good team to defend the yellow jersey."
The six-man Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team confirmed for the Tour de Langkawi: Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Andrew Fenn (Gbr), Michal Golas (Pol), Serge Pauwels (Bel), Pieter Serry (Bel) and Carlos Verona (Spa).