22-Sep-2013: It was a nail biting victory for Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team. After OPQS led the first two intermediate points of the 57.2km UCI World TTT Championship on Sunday, ORICA-GreenEDGE passed the third checkpoint a mere 1.45″ faster than OPQS, who raced the course with Peter Velits, Michal Kwiatkowski, Niki Terpstra, Sylvain Chavanel, Tony Martin, and Kristof Vandewalle.
The gold medal came down to the final section in the city of Firenze, which was technical with small roads. OPQS had five riders, but was down to just four approaching the finish line. They led the GPS time comparison over ORICA-GreenEDGE by a handful of seconds. Martin — defending UCI World TT Champion — took big pulls as OPQS approached the line. OPQS edged ORICA-GreenEDGE for the gold medal by just .81″, as the two teams once again were less than a second apart in the TTT discipline just as they were during the Tour de France. However, OPQS was on the winning side this time, successfully defending their UCI World TTT Championship with a time of 1:04:16.81 (Avg. speed 53.402 km/h).
“It was really one hour a block,” Martin said. “Especially in the final 10 kilometers. We took a few risks, sped it up because we knew we were a few seconds behind. We took the risk that we could either blow up or gain some time and we held the speed until the finish. We also took some risks in the corners. We were a second down in the last intermediate and we knew one corner can be the difference. So we just took the risk. We knew the corners perfectly. We made good preparation going into today, so we can also say it’s really a win for the whole team. The sport directors who prepared us for the race today are included in this, especially in the last kilometers. The last intermediate time gap killed our morale a little bit, seeing the first gaps and then being down on ORICA-GreenEDGE going into the final kilometers. but we had sport directors in the car who built up our motivation again. Then we just gave everything, full risks in the last 10 kilometers. At the end, it was enough. I think we won it with the big morale in the final. I think it is the same for the other riders on the team. In the last few hundred meters Tom Steels said ‘go go go, take everything, you can be world champion’ and I think that gave us the last percentage of motivation to put all our power into the pedals. Sometimes one sentence can make the difference.”
“Like Tony said, if you go with the good lead and then you come back, you know you have to gain four to five seconds,” Sport Director Tom Steels said. “You know it will be very close. So, you have to push the guys. But with this team you have six exceptional riders. To bring it back after such a long team tine trial, I don’t think you will see something like this that often again. I think Niki, Tony, Chava and Peter gave it all in the final kilometers. Kristof did what he had to do before, and Michal was also very important before the final kilometers. Going into Firenze it was really fast, and the last few guys just kept on going. The last five kilometers was more about character than just a result of physics. They went full gas and they pushed it to the line to win this. For these six guys and all the guys that were behind us going into this, this was one good experience we will take with us for the rest of our lives.”
“For me it was really important to win this race,” Chavanel said. “It doesn’t matter if we win by a second, two seconds, or even half a second. If we didn’t win this race, I would have been disappointed because ORICA-GreenEDGE beat us by less than a second at the Tour de France. It is kind of a revenge, this victory. I think this kind of big fight between teams, like a rivalry, is big for the sport of cycling. It is really amazing and something that makes our sport bigger and better.”
“I am still thinking about the first sentence Tom Steels said in the first meeting,” Terpstra said. “He said to us, ‘guys, I think the city of Firenze can make the difference between winning and losing. He was right, because he did such a good effort to recon every corner here. Because of this, we could win this race in the end. We could expect what to do in the final and we did what we had to do to close the gap. That is why we won it in the end, because Tom knew the course perfectly.”
“We were on one line in the end and we all suffered,” Velits said. “It was not just one or two riders putting in the effort. We’re all complaining now that we have pain in our legs. I think we all suffered equally trying to get this victory, and we all have the same satisfaction and feeling of happiness.”
“When I dropped from the team I couldn’t believe that we still won it,” Kwiatkowski said. “I gave my best until I dropped from the team and I am really thankful to the whole staff and the guys that they could still manage to win this race. I left my personal ambitions somewhere behind and I gave it all. The TTT is the kind of race where you can’t be focused on finishing with six guys. I just gave it all until I dropped and it worked perfectly.”
“The second TTT title and it is again special,” Vandewalle said. “We’re not getting used to it. We may get a lot of more titles in the future, but for now this one is truly a special feeling. For sure we made the difference in the first part, but to lose it in the second part it was hard mentally. But we made the switch and it was nice to win again.”
Men (57.2 km)
1. Omega Pharma (BEL) 1hr 04min 16sec, 2. Orica (AUS) 0.81sec, 3. Sky (GBR)
22, 4. BMC (USA) 1min 02sec, 5. RadioShack (LUX) 1:17, 6. Astana (KAZ) 1:21,
7. Cannondale (ITA) 1:28, 8. Garmin (USA) 2:01, 9. Saxo (DEN) 2:14, 10.
Movistar (ESP) 2:31, 11. Katusha (RUS) 2:45, 12. Belkin (NED) 2:49, 13. Lotto
(BEL) 3:01, 14. Argos (NED) 3:06, 15. FDJ.fr (FRA) 3:19