Lefevere is not happy with the spring: “But my self-confidence has not disappeared in six months”
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl is ahead of the most important spring weekend in recent years. With the exception of Fabio Jakobsen’s sprint victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurnes, they are nowhere to be seen in the classics of their Flemish region. Nevertheless, team manager Patrick Lefevere is confident ahead of the Paris-Roubaix meeting. CyclingFlash attended a press conference attended by all seven riders except Lefevere.
Can Roubaix make a big difference for you during this difficult period?
Lefevere: “Only God knows. True, for the first time in a long time, we’ll show off with seven riders. There can be no excuses for any illness or injury. It was great for us that this match is now on the calendar in a week. It gave us time to recover. That is why I hope that Paris-Roubaix can bring us good luck for a while. We have to wait and see, but I repeat myself a hundred thousand times: I am not talking about good or bad results before the end of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
What exactly is the difference between being the best team as before and now with a little less in the race?
Yves Lampaert: “The big difference is that we are now in the third or fourth row. This is often where bad luck follows you. We’re not used to driving around this place. We hope to be back in the forefront soon. I’m sure it will happen on Sunday. But we must also remember that we have all known our problems. It’s not that when you’re off, you’re 100%. It takes time to recover properly. ”
How do you deal with the fact that you are not where you used to be?
Lefevere: “Making sure you don’t get to the point where you’re disappointed. If I, as the team leader, got nervous and panic, we’d be in big trouble. What happened happened. Some riders got covid, others the flu. There were injured men. We’re in the corner. “There are thirty riders on the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl list, but in some races we were only able to show five or six of them. Although each team has, of course, had its own bad luck and illness.”
In recent years, the focus has been on strengthening the core around Remco Evenepoel. Are you going to move back to this classic after this spring?
Lefevere: “It’s too early to answer. I don’t deny that I’m not happy with the situation, but you should never lose weight on a sick or injured person. I still believe in the men sitting here. It can’t be that everyone disappears in six months or a year. They have it in their own hands. If the guys perform according to what we pay them for, there’s no problem. and they must produce results.
And why should I lose confidence in a few months? I think there are a lot of other teams that would like to be in our skin. Remember: we have already booked eighteen wins and thirteen second places. That’s not bad. Although I also understand that everyone here is looking at Flemish glasses, Flemish classics. But for me, it’s more than just that. I’m just trying to stay calm. Again: I’m not happy, of course, don’t get me wrong. I have only learned during my career that nothing can change in a week or ten days. ”
What do you expect from the course?
Lampaert: “There will be a fast race. The weather forecast shows dry weather. Hopefully we will escape bad luck. We are seven riders who are getting in good shape. Everyone is able to drive a strong race, I am convinced. We hope to reach the finals with as many men as possible to set the course to your liking. It is difficult for Paris-Roubaix to go into too much tactical detail, as this can happen in any section. But instead of a defensive competition, we choose offensive tactics.
How do you keep the confidence that you can win on Sunday?
Lefevere: “It’s quite simple. We should always make sure that competition is after us and not the other way around. We are not used to racism in defense, as Yves says. But if we can use 100% of our full potential, I am not afraid of it. We should not panic or be nervous. Paris-Roubaix is a very long race. Even if you fall apart at a bad time. This race is never over, it’s only at Roubaix ‘Vélodrome.
Do you think we are big favorites and should we include Wout van Aert?
Lampaert: “You always have to involve Van Aert. We’ve seen at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad that he doesn’t need a lot of rhythm to perform well. I also think Mads Pedersen is driving very fast and Mathieu van der Poel is going, too. INEOS Grenadiers is going well and Jasper Stuyven is one of the guys who can win on Sunday, but in Paris-Roubaix it can happen so much that I can’t predict the winner, and I think a lot of the boys on our team can also win the race.
In the past, you drew strength from a strong team. How is it now?
Lefevere: “I don’t think it’s a big secret that Kasper is driving around at a very high level. In my opinion, he was one of the strongest drivers in the Amstel Gold Race. He was just too generous and too good for others. Kasper could have benefited a little more from the work of others. Indeed, our strength in recent years has been to get three or four pawns in the finals to play the game. I hope we can do it again on Sunday. I don’t care who the winner is. As long as he wears our blue shirt.
Where is your chance to win, Kasper?
Asgreen: “I’m at the start, so I can win (laughs). But it’s not going to be easy. There are 180 winners. I feel like my form has been good in recent weeks. Except for the Flanders tour, my races went as I had hoped. Only this victory was missing, but I believe I still have the form to win Paris-Roubaix, and the team is closer to each game, the boys shot me in a good position in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Amstel Gold Race. to do it again on Sunday. “
And how do you deal with Van der Poel?
Asgreen: “I don’t know if it’s going to go back to a direct duel with Mathieu. A million other scenarios could happen. In the course, we need to see what we’re in. And we need to play it out as wisely as possible. Maybe be a little less generous, as Patrick says. (laughs).