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Etixx-QuickStep Hope to Bounce Back After Smackdown

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Mar 5, 2015 – Etixx-Quick Step has announced the selections that will participate in Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, a Belgian three-day race that begins in Middelkerke and ends in Ichtegem between Friday, March 6th and Sunday, March 8th, and Strade Bianche Eroica Pro, an Italian race in the Tuscan region on March 7th.

EQS PR/Yuzuru Sunada

The race once again opens with a fast and flat 7km prologue. Stage 2, from Brugge to Harelbeke, includes a climb of the Oude Kwaremont about 100 kilometers into the 174.1km stage, but then finishes with a flat four-lap circuit. The 184.5km Stage 3, from Nieuwpoort to Ichtegem, includes the Rodeberg, Monteberg, and Kemmelberg before entering a finishing circuit of 11.5km for three laps. The circuit includes the Keidenberg and Ruidenberg.

Etixx – Quick-Step has been successful at this race in past years, with two overall victories in 2012 and 2013. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck won the final stage in the 2014 edition.

“The prologue is short, but even a second or two matters in this race,” Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. “Then there is the stage near the sea, where the wind always play a role. The final stage is not so easy to predict either, where there can be actions at different points of the parcours including the climb of the Kemmelberg. But in past years even with the conditions and the climbs, the difference in the overall was made in the prologue. So normally it is important to do well immediately, so you don’t miss the chance to do well also in the GC. We have a good team at this race and will try to go for at least one win, depending on what we find on the roads day-by-day.”

Strade Bianche, a 200km one-day Italian Classic from San Gimignano to Siena, is a race of attrition with 45.4km of challenging gravel roads over 10 sectors, and also steep climbs along with technical descents. Michal Kwiatkowski won the race solo in 2014 for Etixx – Quick-Step.

“It’s the same parcours of last year,” Sport Director Davide Bramati said. “It’s a selective parcours with two long gravel sectors, one of 9.2 kilometers at Sector 6 (120 to 129.2km) and another of 11.5 kilometers (Sector 7 146.4km to 157.8km). At the exit of Sector 7 the race will have a different feel to it. As last year there will likely be a a select group in front at that point, then the rest of the race will start with a lot of up and down until the finish in Piazza del Campo. Last year Michal attacked on the uphill near the finish, and it could be a key point again this year.”

“Compared to our 2014 selection we only have Rigoberto Uran returning, so we changed seven of eight riders. That is why tomorrow we will recon the parcours. But we have a really good team here. We have guys who can thrive in difficult race conditions, such as Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra. We have riders for the hills such as Uran, Pieter Serry, Carlos Verona, and Gianluca Brambilla. We also have riders who are familiar with these kinds of roads because of their experience in the Northern Classics, such as Fabio Sabatini and Julien Vermote. So even our selection this year is competitive. For sure our goal is to try be there and play a role in the victory.”

Riders:
Iljo Keisse (BEL)
Yves Lampaert (BEL)
Gianni Meersman (BEL)
Petr Vakoc (CZE)
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL)
Martin Velits (SVK)
Lukasz Wisniowski (POL)
Rigoberto Uran (COL)

Sports Director
Tom Steels (BEL)
Rik van Slycke (BEL)

Stages
06.03.15 Prologue Middelkerke 7.0 km (ITT)
07.03.15 Stage 1 Brugge – Harelbeke 174.1 km
08.03.15 Stage 2 Nieuwpoort – Ichtegem 184.5 km