Omega Pharma-QuickStep saw its reconnaissance pay off with a win in the World Championship team time trial today in the Netherlands. It was easy for the winning six because they just followed the book and watched the TV.
“I came here, drove it and filmed it in April. From there, we watched and studied,” team sports director, Tom Steels told Cycling Weekly. “Then, in the last two or three days, I started my day at 6am by watching the video. Every time I looked at it, I saw different things to say to the riders.”
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Durning his recon, Steels also took photos and produced a road book for the riders, which included Tom Boonen and last year’s individual TT champ, Tony Martin. In it, it had every corner and every roundabout over the 53.2km course from Sittard south to Valkenburg.
He gathered the six riders after the Eneco Tour and took them to ride the course. Based nearby, in the last three days Steels briefed the riders twice a day. Saturday, on closed roads, Omega Pharma rode it at full speed. This morning, Steels then did one more briefing so that they were drilled.
“It was important that they had confidence and knowledge of the course,” he added. “They never hesitated. They knew every corner and went through it. We knew the difficult parts.”
Omega Pharma held off BMC Racing’s charge by just three seconds and clocked one hour and 3-17 minutes. Sky and Garmin, traditionally strong time trial teams, were further back. Steels said that they focused on other goals – the Giro, the Tour and the Olympics – and that in the future they will be aiming to win the Worlds time trial.
“Brad [Wiggins] gave it all for the Tour and Olympics,” Geraint Thomas told Cycling Weekly. “I had my focus on the Olympics, and it paid off.”
Steels also accredits a change over the winter to today’s success. Specialized bikes and several new directors, including Rolf Aldag, joined the team after HTC-Highroad folded.
“Rolf Aldag came in and helped put a lot of effort in the bikes and we helped give the riders back the love for the time trial,” Steels explained. “Every TT they had to do, we all went with two or three guys in the lead and we won a few. The guys started to love it again. They always had one [bike] to train on at home and so when they came to the race, they were excited to compete.”