In pro cycling you win with the legs and the best ones win with the legs and the head. Today Niki Terpstra won a fantastic and stunning victory in Dwars door Vlaanderen. He had the legs but our subject today is the head.
We think it’s time to send a shout out to one of the sharpest Director Sportifs in the sport, Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Brian Holm. Sure, the team made serious upgrades to the roster but it was also a serious change of culture and Holm has been instrumental.
The team has already racked up an impressive number of wins and they’re coming from every rider and in every race. Levi Leipheimer started strong with the overall in the Tour of San Luis, and re-inspired sprinter Francesco Chicchi also picked up two stage wins down South and a stage in Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen.
Tom Boonen won in Qatar and stage 2 of Paris-Nice. Peter Velits won the Tour of Oman and Gerald Ciolek came back from near invisibility to win stage four of the Volta ao Algarve. Leipheimer was on his way to a podium in Paris-Nice before an untimely crash — three, actually, knocked him out of contention. Sylvain Chavanel took second to Terpstra in today’s Flemish semi-classic. World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin hasn’t even warmed up the engine yet.
When that many riders on one squad step up, it’s not just roster changes, it’s a new injection of talent at the management level, new ideas, new methods and motivational skills. By our count Omega Pharma Quickstep already has about 18 stage wins and overall victories this season. That all comes back to the other clever Dane besides Bjarne Riis.
When he and tag team partner Rolf Aldag ran HTC-Highroad, they had the number one ranked team in the world for several years. Not only did that they have Mark Cavendish and Tony Martin, they also displayed a knack for developing young talents and instilling a powerful work ethic. Guys like Tejay Van Garderen, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Matthew Goss all came through the program and delivered the goods. Holm and Aldag also formed one of the great under-rated comedy duos in all of cycling as chronicled by the terrific movie Chasing Legends.
We can tell you the big win total isn’t just because team boss Patrick Lefevere is yelling less or threatening riders with a reduction in their beer and frites ration. Those old school Belgian days are over and the wake-up call has been heard by everyone.
Niki Terpstra won today in Dwars door Vlaanderen but we’re handing out the game ball to Brian Holm. Chapeau, you crazy great Dane.