The Quickstep Rampage - When will it end?

Photograph:   Twila Federica Muzzi


While Paris-Roubaix didn’t go to plan for QuickStep (there’s no way Lefevere is happy with “only” a podium place) the enormous success of their spring classics campaign shouldn’t be underestimated. Peter Sagan was the only rider to outwit cycling’s self-proclaimed “wolf pack” at the business end of the spring classics, with the team winning E3 Harelbeke, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Scheldeprijs and De Ronde. A single one of those wins might make another team’s entire season; at QuickStep, one spring classic is the bare minimum.


In nearly every race they boast the majority of big contenders; they’re cycling version of Geelong’s “Dangerwoodlett”. Team Principal Patrick Lefevere has long been responsible for putting together some impressive stables of riders, but it’s a pretty astonishing group they have right now - especially considering that one of Belgium’s greatest riders in history retired only a year ago, (Tom Boonen, in case you were wondering)


The beauty of QuickStep is that they have a roster filled with A level riders. They have the depth to compete in any and every race, but they aren’t beholden to any A+ riders with A+ egos who command the entire team’s support every time they pin on a number. A team with one superstar is forced to see their plans through no matter how their leader feels on the day; the QuickStep boys can reassess on the road; swap their plans depending on who feels good, and ride for that man. Or it could be death by 1000 papercuts, with the teammates forcing a small selection where they outnumber everyone else; attacking in turns until someone stays away for good.


For a team like that to function, it takes a special group of guys; Gilbert left BMC because he and Greg Van Avermaet couldn’t manage each other’s goals simultaneously. PhilGil is yet to see the top step of the podium this year and there’s not a hint of dissatisfaction. Gilbert and co were blocking the chase group last week when Niki Terpstra went away on the Hotond climb, and if he’d come back to the pack rather than running away with the win, he would have done the same for Lampaet or Stybar. That sort of attitude breeds winning, and that fuels the good vibes, which again helps the winning. If there’s one thing QuickStep does better than anyone else, it’s winning.


The bad news for the rest of the peloton is that just because we’re moving into the Ardennes classics, it doesn’t mean that the QuickStep dominance will end. Julian Alaphilippe has been on an early season tear, and will be amongst the big favourites at Liege and Fleche Wallonne; and Enric Mas could surprise after getting his maiden World Tour victory in the last stage of Pais Vasco. 


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Alex ClementsComment