Riders fighting for Tour de France spots
Omega Pharma-Quick Step line up at the Tour de Suisse with the aim of a final tune up of Mark Cavendish's sprint train before the Tour de France begins in 22 days time. While the race won't be the final deciding factor for which nine-riders will line up in Leeds in July 5, it will provide opportunities for riders to make their case for selection.
"We are here with a strong team for the sprint," sport director Wilfried Peeters said. "We will go for the sprints in the two occasions that favor the group arrival. Mark is here with almost his complete leadout train. So it will be an important moment in the approach of the Tour de France."
Along with the sprint stages, with two races against the clock, the race will also be a test for time trial world champion Tony Martin and recently resigned Niki Terpstra as Peeters explained.
"The other goal of the team will be the two time trials — the short prologue and the 25km individual time trial," Peeters said. "For Tony it will be a good goal personally, but also Niki Terpstra can do well in this kind of effort. We don't have a guy for the GC, but we have a strong team for specific situations of the race."
Due to a fibrotic cyst in the area of the perineum, Stijn Vandenbergh won't participate in the race but is hoping for a return at the Ster ZLM Toer. The super domestique is hopeful that his injury won't keep him out of the Tour and is looking for good performances at at the Ster ZLM and also the Belgian national championships.
"I was among the riders who had a chance to fight for a spot at the Tour de France," Vandenbergh said. "But unfortunately this problem won't permit me to be there. The Tour is an exigent race and you have to be 100 percent. It's the second time I suffered bad luck that kept me from battling for a spot. Last year my knee was the problem, and now this.
"But OK, my season is not over and I will do my best to get ready for nationals to support my team. Then, together with the team, we will decide the rest of my schedule."
Omega Pharma-Quick Step for the Tour de Suisse: Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, Tony Martin, Mark Renshaw, Gert Steegmans, Niki Terpstra, Matteo Trentin and Martin Velits.
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