Etixx – Quick-Step Cycling Team had a third successful "Velodrome Showcase" Official Team Presentation on Wednesday, in an event where sponsors and their guests, as well as fans in the Tribune, were able to watch each 2015 rider be introduced one-by-one, and then enjoy the riders competing against each other in several track events throughout the evening. The event was held at the track named after Belgian Cycling Legend Eddy Merckx at the Vlaams Wielercentrum in Gent (Belgium).
The evening began with Etixx – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere addressing the crowd, thanking them for attending and talking about the upcoming season.
Lefevere then passed the microphone to owner Mr. Zdenek Bakala.
"I am very happy to be here and celebrate with the team, which did unbelievable things last year," Bakala said. "We can consider them among the best teams in the world. I am thrilled about things have evolved since I have been part owner in 2011 and I want to thank everyone who is here to celebrate the start of the 2015 season. It is beautiful to see how many people are here around us. I hope next year will be another like 2014, with not only victories, but a presence of the team in all races where were are at the start line."
Marc Coucke also spoke to the public in attendance.
"We are pleased, and want to thank Mr. Zdenek Bakala for all the help he has provided this team," Coucke said. "Thanks to his help we can have this beautiful team here in Belgium. The sponsors are committed and really behind the team. For us, the next year will be important. But we are sure the riders will answer the call with more great performances. Also, I have to say that with Tom Boonen and his longtime girlfriend expecting twins, that maybe Tom can add another pair of twins to his 2015 in April with the Classics (laugh)."
Riders were then introduced, and racing began. Mark Cavendish eventually emerged as the overall winner of the races.
"This event went very well for the third year in a row, it is evident just in how loud it is in here," Boonen said. "I think it's a special team presentation. Not every team has the possibility to do this kind of thing, but as a Belgian team we train a lot here in Gent in the Winter, two times a week. That is actually how the team came up with the idea for this kind of event and three years later, here we are with a big success. I think everyone loves it. If you go to a normal team presentation riders go up on stage and talk about themselves, and that's it. But here it's like a six-days feeling. It's a more relaxed and fun atmosphere than you would have at a typical presentation. Plus, because we are all competitive. Boys will be boys. Give them a bike and they want to go fast. That's a recipe for entertainment. The fans get really enthusiastic about it and for the riders it's also fun. It's nice to have interaction this way. "
"I don't think there's another team in the peloton that does a race as a team presentation," Cavendish said. "It shows the Belgian roots of Etixx – Quick-Step. I think it's really entertaining that our sponsors, their guests, and fans can come here and watch a bike race instead of us just standing and talking. It's really nice, I think it integrates well, and it is as much fun for the riders as it is for the crowd. I think it gives the public another event to see, which is bike racers racing bikes. We're all competitive guys but on and off the bike, even when we're racing against each other, we're a family. That's what makes Etixx – Quick-Step special."
"It's an amazing day, to start the season in Gent like this, on a Belgium based team, is always a pleasure," UCI World Road Champion Michal Kwiatkowski said. "It's a great way to show off the new clothing and the sponsors of Etixx – Quick-Step. "I'm super proud to show myself in front of the Belgian public as World Champion and it's always great for me to race here. With these rainbow stripes I am proud and hope our sponsors and supporters are as excited as we are for the upcoming season. The supporters even in the tribune is great, because they are always there for us on good days and bad days on the road. So, it's really important to pay them back for their effort and spend time with them here. As for the event, it's difficult for me to be competitive with the guys like Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra, or Mark Cavendish on the track. They are such great riders in that discipline. For me, it's more fun. But I did race on the velodrome as a junior, so it's always nice to be back here. Now after two training camps, the group has came together with good spirit and we are really motivated to start our racing schedule on the road next week."
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