ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — Jack Bauer says that he needed to change teams after five years in Slipstream/Cannondale. Quick-Step Floors has helped him find that “added kick” heading into the 2017 season.
The tall New Zealander finished rubbing on sun block ahead of Abu Dhabi Tour stage two. He looked over at his teammates Marcel Kittel and Gianluca Brambilla shared a quick laugh. Soon, they would be racing to bring Kittel another win in stage two.
“Just being in a different environment, the way they do things, the way they go about their business…” Bauer said of the Belgian team.
“The camaraderie between staff and riders. It’s quite a close-nit family I’ve been welcomed into really fast. I really appreciate that and I’m enjoying it.
“I think it shows in racing, it gives you an added kick, a bit of extra motivation when it comes to it.”
Bauer, 31, lived through the highs and lows of team Slipstream. Jonathan Vaughters’s US team gave him his first WorldTour professional contact and took him to the Tour de France, where he nearly won a stage from an escape in 2014. It supported him when he broke his femur in the 2015 Tour and to his comeback win in the Tour of Britain in 2016.
Bauer had Belgian Patrick Lefevere call him late into the transfer season. Big and powerful, a rouleur who is not afraid to put the long miles in an escape, he seemed to fit Quick-Step’s bill perfectly.
“Just being a big guy doesn’t mean you fit into a certain team,” Bauer said. “There are roles in the team, and positions that needed to be filled, and I felt that I could bring something to fulfill those roles.”
He said that he had a “difficult come back” after breaking his leg. A lack of results saw him “disappear off the radar” and many teams were not calling.
“When the opportunity arose to come here, to what I see as the premier team, a team that I wanted to be a part of, I jumped at it,” he continued.
“I have a new motivation and since of direction in the sport. I was with Slipstream for five years – it was a long haul.
“I’ll always be grateful for [my first Slipstream contract in 2012], but after a fair few years with an organization, it can help for everybody’s benefit just to get shaking up a little bit. New challenges, new goals.”
Cannondale relied on Bauer in the classics and Tour de France in recent years. He admitted that he is unsure exactly where he will race this 2017, but it could mostly be at Marcel Kittel’s side.
Bauer supported Kittel to a sprint win in the Abu Dhabi Tour. In theory, the team could call on him to do so in races like the Tour de France, as well.
“I’m really trying to find my way, giving Marcel a hand in the closing kilometers in the sprint stages,” he said. “That’s where I see the next couple of months going.
“I’m up for what ever the team throw at me, put it that way.”