Etixx-QuickStep rider Tom Boonen told Cyclingnews this week that his Belgian team is feeling more pressure this year to win the team time trial World Championship after placing third to BMC and Orica-GreenEdge last year.
Etixx-QuickStep won the event the first two years after the discipline's reintroduction to Worlds in 2012, and Boonen said his squad has been focused for some time on returning to the podium's top step.
"The team time trial is a very prestigious part of cycling," Boonen said. "We are very hard working people for the team time trial. We really try to do well in it. I think it's something also that shows to the outer world that you are a team that's willing to suffer for one another.
"I was very happy when I was in Valkenburg and we won the first team time trial. It's one of my best moments in cycling, so I’m happy to be here again."
The team started last year's race in Ponferrada, Spain in the final position, and weather began to turn for the worse as the Belgian squad started on the course. Boonen said he's hoping for better luck this year.
"Last year we were a little unlucky with the weather in the final, but that's time trialing," he said. "You're not starting in the same point of the day. Everybody has a start time and a finish time. So let's hope we have some luck this year and we can beat the big guys."
The team has also tweaked its preparation slightly, bringing the TTT riders together for Canadian WorldTour races earlier this month and getting to Richmond with plenty of time to adjust and train for the specific discipline. The changes meant Boonen was not able to compete in the Vuelta a Espana this year.
"They wanted the team to stay together," he said. "So all the guys who are doing the team time trial stayed together the last three weeks, four weeks, so it's been a little bit different approach. We'll see how it ends up."