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Manuel Quinziato, right, made his BMC debut at the Tour of Qatar.
Italian confident for the Classics
Marcus Burghardt and Greg Van Avermaet may have had off-days in Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but Manuel Quinziato was in fine form, securing BMC an eighth place finish in the first Belgian road race of the 2011 season.
The 31-year-old Italian, who signed from Liquigas at the end of last year, attacked with John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad), Matthew Hayman (Sky), and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Cervélo) just after eventual race winner Sebastian Langeveld broke clear on the Eikenberg. Despite being joined by several other riders, Quinziato rode strongly and although he was unable to respond to attacks in the finale, he finished 8th.
"The first race in Belgium is never easy. Before going to the Tour of Qatar it had been nearly six months since I'd raced so I'm confident for the Classics now," he told Cyclingnews at the finish.
"I think there were three or four stronger guys than me today but the aim is to get better and better between now and March."
BMC director Mike Sayers had told Cyclingnews before the race that Burghardt and Van Avermaet were the two protected riders for the day but he added that the team had enough depth for most situations.
After the race, with Quinziato too cold and tired to unclip one of his shoes from the pedal, Sayers had nothing but admiration for the Italian's ride.
"It was pretty ugly out there. As far as the weather is concerned it was horrible out abut the guys rode well from the sections I saw. Manuel had a great ride and I think that proves why he came to our team and why we're happy to have him. He's another bullet in the chamber for the rest of the year."
BMC are set to make changes for tomorrow's race, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, with Burghardt set to rest. Quinziato, however, is down to ride. Any final changes will be discussed over dinner this evening but Sayers is content with the team's performance.
"It was just one of those days where I think even if you had super good form it wouldn't necessarily matter because it was so cold and wet. The strongest guys were all on the front, there's no doubt about it," he said.
"I don't think that any single result would elevate you or relegate your status within the team. We have confidence in all our guys and as the heart of the Classics season gets closer we're just going to get better and we'll have more cards to play."