Dual world champions Etixx-Quickstep team announced today the six riders who will try to regain their team time trial world title at the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia on Sunday. Captained by multiple individual time trial world champion Tony Martin, the team will also include Tom Boonen, out-going road race world champion Michal Kwiatkowski, Rigoberto Uran, Niki Terpstra and Yves Lampaert.
Etixx-Quickstep director Tom Steels said the team did some testing on its riders last week at the Ursel airfield in Belgium to make the selection.
"We collected some important data that we analyzed and we will for sure use this in preparation for worlds," Steels said. "It was also good to work on the slipstream and the combination of the riders. We even did some specific workouts focusing on the corners. So, I think it was important. It's also good for the riders to get focused on this event. It was like a first step in preparation. It gets them thinking about it."
The 38.8km course in Richmond is largely flat, but has some undulations, the most severe of which comes at the end of the course when the road turns up sharply on Governor Street in the final kilometre.
"I saw the course on Sunday, and I have to say it will be pretty fast," Steels continued. "There are some long, straight sections where the speed will be really high. There will also be fast downhills. So, keeping the right rhythm is important. It will be fast until the last climb, which is more or less in the last kilometer. It will be a tough finale for sure."
After winning the first two TTT titles in 2012 and 2013 - after the UCI re-introduced the discipline at the world championships - the Belgian team faltered in Ponferrada last year, coming third behind winners BMC Racing and second-placed Orica-GreenEdge. The margin of victory for BMC last year was over 30 seconds, but Steels thinks the gaps will be much smaller this time.
"It will be really close among the teams. It will likely be a question of seconds that differentiate the winner from the losers of this race," he said. "The finale can be something like the Worlds TTT of Valkenburg, in a way. That one was harder, but of course, it's important to save power for that last part of the parcours. The winner of the race will be decided likely at that point of the race."
Terpstra is the only rider to have competed in the Vuelta a Espana, although he made his exit from the race on stage 18. The other five all raced in the GP Quebec and Montreal, and arrived in Richmond on Monday for training and course reconnaisance.
"The riders can see the complete course, which will be closed to traffic, on this upcoming Saturday. But, during the next days, we will do a lot of specific training and reconnaissance of the parcours, even if it is not full gas efforts. We want to check all the small details that, in a race like this, can make the difference."
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