Soudal-Quickstep’s Classics identity crisis ‘not disastrous’ says Lampaert

Soudal-Quickstep have seen their reign in the Spring Classics fade in recent years with the rise of Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar and their focus on building a team behind Remco Evenepoel’s Grand Tour ambitions. But veteran Yves Lampaert says the situation is not a disaster.

In 2021, Quickstep won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Davide Ballerini), Brugge-De Panne (Sam Bennett), E3 Saxo Classic (Kasper Asgreen), Tour of Flanders (Kasper Asgreen), and La Flèche Wallonne (Julian Alaphilippe).

Since Evenepoel took up one-day racing in 2022, he’s won Liège-Bastogne-Liège twice, and Tim Merlier has won Nokere Koerse in 2023 and this year, but the team have otherwise struggled in the Spring Classics.

Speaking on the Belgian talk show Vive le vélo, Lampaert admitted the team has ceded control in what used to be their domain. “You have guys like Van der Poel, Van Aert or Pedersen who are superior. And we cannot make our mark,” Lampaert said.

“We no longer dictate the race like we used to. That’s not fun. But in the end: in Gent-Wevelgem there were two men in front and behind them was a group of about 40 riders, of which there were five of us. So that was how not disastrous it was.

“But it is true that we no longer decide what happens in the race like we used to. That is difficult to accept at the moment.”

The changes have come in both objectives and recruiting, with Patrick Lefevere letting go of longtime Classics stalwarts like Ballerini, Florian Sénéchal, and Tim Declercq over the past two years. A dozen veteran riders left the team through transfer or retirement, and Lampaert says the incoming riders are young and need time to develop.

“You have young guys like Paul Magnier, Luke Lamperti or William Junior Lecerf who are doing great. In Gent-Wevelgem, Gil Gelders also rode in the final as a first-year professional. I think it still needs some time to let those guys flourish,” Lampaert said.

The team can also take heart in results like Evenepoel’s overall win in the Volta ao Algarve and second place in Paris-Nice this year and his stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, in addition to his Vuelta overall victory in 2022.

“In other areas, things are going very well,” Lampaert said. “Mikel Landa [who joined the team this year] finished second in the Volta a Catalunya and Remco Evenepoel is phenomenal.”

The 32-year-old Lampaert is a two-time winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen – which he will be racing again tomorrow – and a podium finisher in Paris-Roubaix in 2019. His most recent Classics result was a podium in De Panne last year, and he showed himself in the attacks late in the Bredene Koksijde Classic.

Lampaert is hoping to show the team’s colours in the upcoming Classics.

“Of course, I would also like to show myself again. That will be very difficult in the Tour of Flanders,” he said. “That has become a phenomenally difficult race and I don’t know if we have the power for that. For me, that will be difficult. But I hope to be there in Paris-Roubaix.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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