Omega Pharma-QuickStep is to launch a feeder team at Continental level in 2013. The team will operate under the banner of Etixx, a sports supplements company owned by Omega Pharma.
While the precise composition of the team is yet to be announced, it is reported that the line-up will include two Belgian riders, with Louis Verhelst and Dieter Bouvry linked to the squad. Marc Coucke, the head of main sponsor Omega Pharma, said that the WorldTour system made a development team something of a necessity.
“We are looking to focus on youth,” Coucke told Het Laatste Nieuws. “All year our elite team is aiming to score WorldTour points so it’s not possible to give all the neo-professionals a chance. That’s why it’s important to establish a Continental team.”
As well as developing talent for the WorldTour team, Coucke said that the existence of Etixx would also mean that Omega Pharma-QuickStep would have to spread itself as thinly due to the exigencies of an ever-expanding calendar.
“Organizers of smaller races will be satisfied,” he said. “If our WorldTour team has to be present in Canada or China, we can bring our Continental team to the start.”
Meanwhile, Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s elite team travels to Lest, Slovakia on Monday for a short, team-building training camp at a military base. It will be an early opportunity for former world champion Mark Cavendish to integrate with his new teammates following his move from Team Sky.
"Our guys and our staff will spend two days working on a series of activities that have nothing to do with bicycles but which will surely help us to form a cohesive group before the start of next season and allow us to understand some of the team dynamics, which could turn out to be important to better get to know some of the skills of our new members," directeur sportif Tom Steels said, adding: “It will be a pleasant surprise for everyone.”