Continuing our series on cycling families, we’re turning our attention to the Slovakian Velits twins – Peter and Martin – who are riding this season for Omega Pharma-Quick Step and took part in this week’s Challenge Mallorca. The boys have always ridden on the same teams but one doesn’t get the feeling that they’re joined at the hip. Arguably, Peter is the better time-triallist and stage racer while Martin – who’s a few centimetres taller and a few kilos heavier – is more of a classics guy.
They were born on 21st February 1985 in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Aged 13, the family moved to Puchov where they still live. The youngsters played ice hockey for the local junior team and, to keep fit in the summer months, rode their bikes. The latter soon became their premier passion and they started competing in bike races.
In their first season in Junior World Cup races, Peter was second overall and Martin fourth. They enjoyed success in the Slovakian national championships at both under-19 and under-23 level. As under-23 riders, they competed for the South African-registered team Konica Minolta, racing six months of the year in South Africa and the other half in Europe. The twins enjoyed year-round sunshine.
During this period Peter picked up some respectable results: the overall in the Giro del Capo and some stage wins. Thereafter, both brothers joined the German Continental Pro team Wiesenhof-Felt.
Peter became World Champion U23 Road Race Champion in Stuttgart in 2007 and won GP Fourmies. Both brothers signed for Milram the following season. Their dreams of becoming ProTour riders had been fulfilled. After two years with Milram, the twins signed to ride for HTC-Columbia for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. This season they’re both riding for the impressive Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad which is already racking up wins left, right and centre.
On signing the twins at the end of last season, OPQS general manager Patrick Lefevre said:
Martin and Peter come from a country full of potential like Slovakia, which is growing on the cycling scene. Martin is an athlete who’s already proven his worth in the young categories and in his first seasons as a pro. We’re counting on him a lot, since we consider him an athlete who can improve even further. Peter, on the other hand, stood out to us for the good end-of-season he had last year, which saw him winning a stage and third place in the GC in the Vuelta a Espana and for the good performance at the recent Tour de France.
- 2004: U23 national road race champion
- 2005: U23 national road race champion, won stage 3a at Giro del Capo
- 2006: U23 national road race champion
- 2009: National road race champion
- 2010: National road race champion, won team time trial at Vuelta a Espana
- 2003: U19 national road race and time trial champion
- 2005: U23 national time trial champion, won stage 6 at Vuelta a Navarra
- 2006: U23 national time trial champion, 1st overall and won stage 2 at Giro del Capo, won GP Kooperativa
- 2007: U23 road race world champion, won GP de Fourmies
- 2009: Won GP des Kantons Aargau
- 2010: 3rd overall, won team and individual time trials at Vuelta a Espana, 2nd in stage 1 at Criterium du Dauphine
Peter is confident that the injuries which blighted his 2011 season – only 19th in his third Tour de France – are behind him and he’s looking forward to life at OPQS with his twin brother and a number of his former HTC-Highroad team mates. Speaking about their collaboration in the forthcoming Tour de France, Peter said:
It’s good that we’re going there with three GC guys who can help each other. It always depends on how the situation during the race develops, maybe there’s a crash or one of us gets caught at the back and his chances are gone. Besides, I don’t think any one of us has a problem helping the others. If there’s someone better than me, then for sure I have no problem in helping them.
Both boys began the new season at the Challenge Mallorca, and will next move on to warmer climes at the Tour of Oman. Peter’s first objective is Tirreno-Adriatico followed by the Ardennes Classics and then the Tour de Suisse, as preparation for the Tour de France. Martin meanwhile will likely be a key member of OPQS’s Classics squad riding in support of Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel.
Despite their successes in their national championships, London 2012 won’t feature on the Velits’ agenda. Due to the vagaries of the qualification system Slovakia has just one berth for the two road events and Peter Sagan represents the nation’s best chance of a medal at the Games.
Link: The brothers’ website