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Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) comes to the front to chase
Twins expect to win hilly stage 5 to Slovakia on their home soil
Peter and Martin Velits don't race in the same team anymore but they have a common objective: taking victory on the Tour of Poland's stage 5 on Thursday, which will conclude in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia, their home country.
"We absolutely wanted to race the Tour of Poland because it gives us an unique opportunity to race at home after the nationals", Martin, who rides for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, told Cyclingnews. His twin brother Peter, a pro rider with BMC Racing Team this year, is so motivated that he skipped a rest period after Tour de France (he was 27th overall riding in support of Tejay van Garderen). The Under-23 World Champion in 2007 who finished second overall at the 2010 Vuelta a España said he is "tired in the legs and also a bit in the head".
That stage finish in Strbske Pleso, in the Tatra Mountains, is perfect for both Velits brothers. They know the climb, 1313m high, located among the trees and around a small lake, by heart. The final ascent is less than 10 kilometres long and has a gradient of 5%, but it does include a short section of 16% with 150m to go. The lower part of the hill will be climbed two times prior to the final haul all the way to the top.
"On that stage we expect some big crowds and many supporters", Martin Velits said. "Slovakian cycling is slowly growing, mainly thanks to Peter Sagan [who doesn't take part to the race this year, Ed.]".
In front of their fans, the twin brothers, would love to achieve a fantastic dream, almost an unsayable dream as its intensely emotional and, maybe, purely utopian. Their imagery: finishing one-two on the finish line, like they used do in their Junior years.
"First, that's always very difficult to be together in the same breakaway", Peter admitted. "But there are more opportunities for us to do so this year, because we are in different teams. In the previous years, we couldn't really break away under the same jersey. The teams don't let you go like that."
Another obstacle comes from Martin's personal status within his team: he's supposed to support Czech Petr Vakoč, who leads the general classification by a margin of 26 seconds. For his part, Peter could have more freedom on this stage as he's one of the best climbers or puncheurs in his squad. "My sports directors know, however, that I am just out of the Tour de France and so they don't put pressure on me," he said.
If they could at least ride in front together, without talking about capturing victory, the Velits brothers would be reunited again. 2014 is indeed the first season they ride for different teams. "We have always been in the same groups, in football, in ice hockey and then in cycling since we started with sport aged 14", recalled Peter. Both of them joined third division team Dukla Trencín in 2004 before they raced with Konica Minolta (South Africa), Wiesenhof, Milram (Germany) and big squads HTC and Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
The Velits' also share the same house in Puchov, north-west of Slovakia, living in two separated apartments though, and they share training sessions too, of course.
"It's a strength to be together and it was an asset to be in the same team", told Martin. "But we do manage quite well this new situation of being alone".
Peter agreed there's no drama in the split up of the twin brothers this years. However he's already thinking about the day they will share the same jersey again: "It would be very good..."
Until then twin brothers will try to fulfill their yearning objective on the roads to Strbske Pleso. They know the place like their pockets and sometimes drive two hours from their home to train in the resort or simply enjoy some hiking on their vacation.