Petr Vakoc will lead the Quick-Step Floors team at the Tour Down Under later this month as he looks for stage wins. Alongside the former Czech national champion will be climber Gianluca Brambilla, who is making his debut at the race, and Martin Velits.
Making up the rest of the team’s line-up will be several of their new signings, including Jack Bauer. The New Zealander will already have his first race in the blue of Quick-Step by the time the Tour Down Under rolls around, with the national championships this weekend. Eros Capecchi, who joined from Astana, and Dries Devenyns have also been named in the line-up, as has 21-year-old Enric Mas, who stepped up from the development team Klein Constantia.
Vakoc rode the Tour Down Under last season, finishing fifth on the lumpy stage two from Unley to Sterling. The ride started off what would be a strong season for Vakoc with victories at the Classic Sud Ardeche, Royal Bernard Drôme Classic and Brabantse Pijl before making his debut at the Tour de France.
“It’s a nice race, and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Vakoc. “The organisers are doing a great job every year, the parcours is a very good one and the fans are always creating a fantastic atmosphere. Last year, it was the right decision to start my season here, and I hope things will go the same also this time. I would like to fight for a stage victory, and even though the finish to Sterling is missing, I am confident there will be some chances for me, so I’ll just take it day by day and see what happens.”
Brambilla provides the team with a chance in the overall classification but, with one of the earliest starts to the season in his career, the 29-year-old Italian is unsure how he’ll go.
“I’m entering my eighth pro year, and I’ve never before began the season so early. It will be a new experience, and I’m curious to find out how I’ll cope with it. Now I feel good, but racing in a top event is totally different than training. It won’t be easy to make the transition from the European winter to the Australian summer, but we are travelling there early, and I hope to adapt to the conditions.”
Quick-Step Floors for the Tour Down Under: Petr Vakoc, Jack Bauer, Gianluca Brambilla, Eros Capecchi, Dries Devenyns, Enric Mas, Martin Velits.