While everyone had been ready to witness another chapter of an exciting rivalry between Etixx-Quick-Step and Orica-GreenEDGE in the World Championships TTT event last year, BMC Racing took all the spoils and left no doubts which team was the strongest in Ponferrada. The former squad, beaten by a huge margin of 36 seconds back then, returns to rivalry hungrier than ever and aware that only the first place counts.
Tom Steels, responsible for the Etixx – Quick-Step preparations towards the team time trial agreed with a common opinion that on the shorter fast course seconds will divide winners from losers. He also emphasized that the final selection was based not only on recent performances and data collected during specialistic trainings held in Belgium, but on the route characterictics.
"We want it back, for sure. It's all about that first [place] spot," Etixx team director Tom Steels said to Cyclingnews. "The podium is nice, but winning is completely different."
"I think we're really competitive with this team, they're all riding well, they've shown that in the last races, and the numbers are very good as well. I think that we are again competitive, but the event has grown for every team. BMC, Movistar, Orica are always there.”
"BMC were already very good. This year will be the same, we will again be very close. The race is shorter - usually it's 55 or 60km, now it's 38, and for a TTT in Worlds it's short. So there will not be time to gain if you're behind."
Along with always reliable powerhouse Etixx has in Tony Martin, Steels expects Rigoberto Uran, Michał Kwiatkowski and Niki Terpstra to be the strongest cogs in their formidable train. While a new addition to their squad for team time trial, Yves Lampaert is expected to suffer most on the 38km long course, he doesn't rule out the opportunity that the whole team will make it to the finish line together.
An extent of Tom Boonen's contribution to the team work might be another uncertainly ahead of Sunday's rivalry. The experienced classics specialist admitted that the pressure is much bigger following last year's disappointment, but remains highly motivated, considering TTT a very prestigeous discipline.
"The team time trial is a very prestigious part of cycling," Boonen told Cyclingnews. "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.
"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."
Etixx – Quick-Step squad for the World Championships TTT consists of:
Tony Martin, Michał Kwiatkowski, Rigoberto Uran, Niki Terpstra, Tom Boonen and Yves Lampaert
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