Quick Step-Innergetic 2006
Quick Step dance into 2006 keeping their two chiefs and with 13 new riders
“ Ask the man in the market square who the best Team in the World is, they will not look at Pro Tour rankings but will probably say Quickstep”
Such was Patrick Lefevere’s assessment of his teams performance in 2005. Indeed with 37 victories in total and a domination of the Spring and Autumn Classic’s his assessment may not be so wrong.
However , although Lefevere has an unmatched record in producing teams able to dominate Classic races such as Paris Roubaix, in a quite unprecedented fashion, his ability to build a team capable of challenging in a three week Tour can be questioned.
Its not that he does not try, Juan Miguel Mercado and Jose Antonio Pecharroman both joined the team with what seemed like huge potential, neither rider really managed to deliver the promise they had shown.
In 2006 again Lefevere has made some big and dramatic signings in the hope to increase his teams all round success rate. Jose Rujano and Juan Manuel Garate are both climbers extraordinaire, but Lefevre must be disappointed he could not get Simoni .
Tom Boonen, World Road Race Champion and Paolo Bettini the Olympic Champion will once again be the leading riders for a reshaped Quickstep team that see’s 13 riders take to the laminated floor for the first time and 11 riders no longer treading the boards.
Patrick Lefevere has had to shuffle his pack quite drastically having seen some of his best riders move to pastures new. Both Michael Rogers (champion du monde du contre-la-montre) and tour specialist Patrik Sinkewitz will be in the Magenta colours of T Mobile next season while Luca Paolini will ride alongside Di Luca in the celeste green of Liquigas Bianchi.
Former World Champion Espoirs, the “roadman sprinter” Francesco Chicchi joins the team from Fassa Bortolo, but he will be supported by four riders of great experience, flying Dutchman Steven De Jongh, Juan Manuel Garate the Spaniard who specialises in the Giro, and Cédric Vasseur and Serge Baguet, both former stage winners in the Tour de France.
One of the most interesting signings for 2006 is that of the sensational climber José Rujano (3rd in the Giro 2005) who will join the team after the 2006 Giro. At that point, the Italian rider Davide Bramati will hang his bike on the nail and join directeurs sportifs Wilfried Peeters, Serge Parsani, Luca Guercilena and Rik Van Slycke).
37 year old Davide Bramati has ridden for Patrick Lefevere ever since 1997, and will end his career at Quick Step-Innergetic at the Giro d’Italia. Bramati turned Pro in 1990 with the Diana-Colnago team he also raced for Lampre, Panaria, Mapei and Quick Step. Bramati is known as a top domestique for the best riders, but has had his moments of glory too, such as his stage win in the 2000 Vuelta Espana .
Some you win …….
When 19 year-old Ukrainian Dmytro Grabovskyy dominated the U-23 World Road Race Championships in Madrid, Saunier Duvall were more than happy that he had added to his Silver medal in the Time Trial event earlier in the week.
As their website reported at the time….”Grabovskyy rode a beautiful race, showing everybody his strength and character. The SAUNIER DUVAL-PRODIR team has known of him for a long time and had no doubts about his talents. Grabovskyy rode the 168 kilometres around Madrid on one of the team’s best bikes, Andrea Tafi’s specially prepared CR1. SAUNIER DUVAL- PRODIR would be more than happy to welcome Dmytro Grabovskyy to the professional ranks in the near future. With his silver medal earlier in the week in the U-23 Time Trial, it's evident Grabovskyy will have little trouble, if any, securing a spot on a pro team for 2006
However if Saunier were faster than Quickstep in getting Gilberto Simoni’s signature , Patrick Lefevere has landed the young Ukranian.
Dmytro Grabovskyy, will continue to ride in 2006 for the U23 Italian outfit Finauto but is committed to join Quick Step in 2007.
30 year old Leonardo Scarselli has been a pro for 6 years and has always raced for Selle Italia teams. His only real success has come in the Tour du Senegal, which he won in 2003. However it is generally considered that Colombia-Selle Italia sent an inappropriate squad to that race.
Scarselli will no doubt be water carrying in races such as the Giro and of course, he was Rujano’s team mate this year and José had requested that the Italian join him in his new team
Matteo Tosatto who we have seen so many time driving the Silver Train of Petacchi will not be following his former Captain. A vastly experienced Pro, he is more than capable of winning himselve when given the opportunity as he demonstrated in 2004 with wins in the Giro di Toscana and GP Kanton Aargau.
Ivan Santaromita had a good Tour of Britain as a stagiare for Quickstep and was fourth in the recent Piccolo Giro di Lombardia (behind Gryschenko, Turrina and Efimkin) Ivan Santaromita, 21 years old , also finished 5th in the Ruban Granitier Breton this season.
Dutchman Remmert Wielinga leaves Rabobank after a torrid time with injuries and lack of opportunities following the Tour de France in 2003.
Directeur Sportif Wilfried Peeters hopes he will be a rider who Quickstep can get back on track "In the past we have been lucky, signing riders that have fought their way back from the bottom."
Kevin Van Impe, comes from a family steeped in cycling history : his father, Frank, was a professional for seven years, and his uncle, Lucien, who won the 1976 Tour de France and was king of the mountains six times.
Possibly Kevin suffered from “Belgian build up” , having won around 135 races before turning Pro he was labelled by Press and fellow cyclists as ….” the New Eddy Merckx." .
Van Impe however has suffered more than his share of misfortune- his first race in 2002 saw him crash and break his arm in the Tour de Langkawi and he never really fulfilled his potential at Lotto .
That said, he was second in his National Championships this year and made the attacking move that saw George Hincapie narrowly beat him in this years Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. He did win the Omloop van het Houtland in September and no doubt Lefevere will be hoping that with new guidance Van Impe can shine like Uncle Lucien.
Steven De Jongh is as solid Classic rider as any. Winner of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and the E3 Prijs, as well as this year's Nokere Koerse the Dutch strongman has podiumed on Het Volk and won Veenendaal-Veenendaal twice. A pro since 1995 his experience and strength would be a welcome addition to any Classics team.
De Jongh will be the one of five Dutchman riding for Quickstep, after Knaven, Tankink,Wielinga and Engels.
Mads Christensen (Dan), Dimitri De Fauw, Jurgen Van Goolen and Rik Verbrugghe (BEL), Juan Miguel Mercado and Jose Antonio Pecharroman (Esp), Cristian Moreni, Luca Paolini and Stefano Zanini (Ita), Michael Rogers (Aus), Patrik Sinkewitz (All)
Serge Baguet, Jurgen Van de Walle, Kevin Van Impe and Geert Verheyen (BEL), Francesco Chicchi, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli and Matteo Tosatto (Ita), Steven De Jongh and Remmert Wielinga (P-B), Juan Manuel Garate (Esp), Hubert Schwab (Sui), Cédric Vasseur (Fra).
Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen , Davide Bramati , Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin De Weert , Ad Engels , Josè Antonio Garrido, Kevin Hulsmans , Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Sebastien Rosseler, Bram Tankink, Guido Trenti , Davide Viganò, Wouter Weylandt ,