Omega Pharma-Quick Step has announced the team that will participate in Tirreno-Adriatico scheduled later this week, from March 7-13. The Belgian outfit will be headed by Peter Velits, who recently won the Tour of Oman, with Dario Cataldo, Gerald Ciolek, Bert Grabsch, Serge Pauwels, Jerome Pineau, Gert Steegman and Niki Terpstra supporting the Slovakian.
Velits' twin brother Martin will not race the event "as a measure of precaution," according to the team. He was involved in a crash in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and took a blow to his right knee. After a few days of rest Martin Velits has resumed his training on the road but in the meantime Serge Pauwels will take his place in Tirreno-Adriatico.
"It's going to be a very challenging race," explained sports director Davide Bramati. "The opening team time trial and the concluding individual time trial will be spectacular but the race will be decided in the fifth stage with the finish at Prato di Tivo. The final climb is 14 kilometers long with an average gradient of 7 percent and stretches as steep as 12 percent.
"As far as the general classification, the team will be built around Peter Velits, the winner of the Tour of Oman. Peter will have a balanced team at his side, with riders who can support him both in the climbs as well as on the flatter stages. In the stages for sprinters we can count on Gert Steegmans and Gerald Ciolek who are both enjoying a period of top form; for the time trials we have the skills of Bert Grabsch."