74th Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: 27 February, 2022

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Just watched the final Kms a few times now and Quickstep had used up all their riders and if it wasn't for the Trek train racing for 15th place the break might well not have been caught.

The Quickstep squad is getting old. It's going to be a tough season for them but I reckon/hope that Senechal has a big win in him this year.
 
The Quickstep squad is getting old.
Is it though? Keisse and Stybar are both basically done, but the next-oldest rider they fielded this weekend was Lampaert, who's 30.

The real problem is that they don't have that much top-end quality for the cobbles going forward. Sénéchal hasn't won anything major, Lampaert has won DDV twice, Ballerini has a very weird edition of Omloop to his name. Only Asgreen is a proven winner of the biggest classics, despite all of these riders being in what should be their peak years. And with Jumbo in particular having bolstered their squad, they probably can't rely on outnumbering the opposition either anymore. And then this problem won't be fixed by obvious talents about to step up because most of the young riders they've attracted lately are additions to their climbing and/or Ardennes squad. Perhaps juggling the cobbles squad and Jakobsen and Alaphilippe and Evenepoel and support for all three is too much even for Quickstep and they're locked in until 2023, 2024 and 2026 respectively with those three.
 
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Is it though? Keisse and Stybar are both basically done, but the next-oldest rider they fielded this weekend was Lampaert, who's 30.

The real problem is that they don't have that much top-end quality for the cobbles going forward. Sénéchal hasn't won anything major, Lampaert has won DDV twice, Ballerini has a very weird edition of Omloop to his name. Only Asgreen is a proven winner of the biggest classics, despite all of these riders being in what should be their peak years. And with Jumbo in particular having bolstered their squad, they probably can't rely on outnumbering the opposition either anymore. And then this problem won't be fixed by obvious talents about to step up because most of the young riders they've attracted lately are additions to their climbing and/or Ardennes squad. Perhaps juggling the cobbles squad and Jakobsen and Alaphilippe and Evenepoel and support for all three is too much even for Quickstep and they're locked in until 2023, 2024 and 2026 respectively with those three.
I think they still have a brilliant and possibly the best squad for the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix but they might be lacking a bit in Flanders without Alaphilippe in the selection. Maybe Honoré can become an option to strengthen the team in those races? I remember reading a while back that he wanted to try to shift his focus from the Ardennes to Flanders if the team would let him.
 
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Is it though? Keisse and Stybar are both basically done, but the next-oldest rider they fielded this weekend was Lampaert, who's 30.

The real problem is that they don't have that much top-end quality for the cobbles going forward. Sénéchal hasn't won anything major, Lampaert has won DDV twice, Ballerini has a very weird edition of Omloop to his name. Only Asgreen is a proven winner of the biggest classics, despite all of these riders being in what should be their peak years. And with Jumbo in particular having bolstered their squad, they probably can't rely on outnumbering the opposition either anymore. And then this problem won't be fixed by obvious talents about to step up because most of the young riders they've attracted lately are additions to their climbing and/or Ardennes squad. Perhaps juggling the cobbles squad and Jakobsen and Alaphilippe and Evenepoel and support for all three is too much even for Quickstep and they're locked in until 2023, 2024 and 2026 respectively with those three.
Yeah good analysis of the situation. By saying they're too old, I guess I was thinking that they have no one obvious coming through. Also I was probably jealous of the string of very young talent that Ineos put out at the weekend,
 
The main problem for Quickstep in recent years has never been the quality of their riders on cobbles. Styabr, Lampaert, Terpstra, Gilbert, Asgreen and Co. are very good in that aspect. But since Boonen retired they lack a sprinter who does well on cobbles. Remember Terpstra vs Kristoff? We all knew how that one would end. Stybar vs Degenkolb, same story. Stybar vs GVA? We all knew who'd win that sprint miles before the finish line. THAT is their problem and not the quality on cobbles themselves. They always have one of their guys up there in the finale just to lose a sprint against Van Aert, Van der Poel or even Kristoff. Too bad all their good sprinters over the years were bad on cobbles.
 
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Asgreen
Is it though? Keisse and Stybar are both basically done, but the next-oldest rider they fielded this weekend was Lampaert, who's 30.

The real problem is that they don't have that much top-end quality for the cobbles going forward. Sénéchal hasn't won anything major, Lampaert has won DDV twice, Ballerini has a very weird edition of Omloop to his name. Only Asgreen is a proven winner of the biggest classics, despite all of these riders being in what should be their peak years. And with Jumbo in particular having bolstered their squad, they probably can't rely on outnumbering the opposition either anymore. And then this problem won't be fixed by obvious talents about to step up because most of the young riders they've attracted lately are additions to their climbing and/or Ardennes squad. Perhaps juggling the cobbles squad and Jakobsen and Alaphilippe and Evenepoel and support for all three is too much even for Quickstep and they're locked in until 2023, 2024 and 2026 respectively with those three.
Don't know if it is too much to be honest, but the rest of the assesment is correct in my opinion. But in general I just think the level of their cobbled squad is just below the real top contenders, which makes it more difficult to win. If they manage to replace a guy like Stybar with a real top contender then it will look very different. But also I don’t want to rule out a situation where Asgreen, Senechal, Lampaert and Stybar are going to color some finales next month.

A guy like Mads Pedersen would be a great addition to Quickstep though. With the budget of Cavendish/Stybar it should be possible to get him a I guess.

The main problem for Quickstep in recent years has never been the quality of their riders on cobbles. Styabr, Lampaert, Terpstra, Gilbert, Asgreen and Co. are very good in that aspect. But since Boonen retired they lack a sprinter who does well on cobbles. Remember Terpstra vs Kristoff? We all knew how that one would end. Stybar vs Degenkolb, same story. Stybar vs GVA? We all knew who'd win that sprint miles before the finish line. THAT is their problem and not the quality on cobbles themselves. They always have one of their guys up there in the finale just to lose a sprint against Van Aert, Van der Poel or even Kristoff. Too bad all their good sprinters over the years were bad on cobbles.
Hmm I recently saw an edition where one of those Wolfs beat van der Poel in a sprint I believe?
 
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I think both Alaphilippe and Evenepoel should race Ronde in the future, if they can make that work (focus for both should still primarily be on the Ardennes in the spring).
Considering their lack of bite currently, they should send Evenepoel to the Ronde this year, and send Van Wilder to Itzulia in his stead. I think Evenepoel could be a genuine contender or at least an ace in the hole, given his performances in one day races on similar turf.
 
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Why would he crash, or be more prone to than others? Have you seen him in BBT, BCC, Druivenkoers...? He's quite capable of riding on the same or similar roads he trains on.

And Masnada in the Ronde? Hehe.

Because the courses you mention are not nearly as hectic as the early season cobble races in which every cobble specialist is active. There are way more crashes in those races and positioning is way more vital.

Evenepoel has shown in the past that his bike handling skills are not his best asset. I think the risk is way too high to take given that the chance of a real big reward also looks rather low to me.

Masnada was obviously a joke. ;)
 
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Because the courses you mention are not nearly as hectic as the early season cobble races in which every cobble specialist is active. There are way more crashes in those races and positioning is way more vital.

Evenepoel has shown in the past that his bike handling skills are not his best asset. I think the risk is way too high to take given that the chance of a real big reward also looks rather low to me.

Masnada was obviously a joke. ;)
It could work if you have Evenepoel attack early, before the penultimate Oude Kwaremont at a minimum. It would at least wear out the other teams, and if there's anyone who's going to make a Gilbert 2017-esque solo attack stick it's obviously him.

I do agree that Evenepoel's bike handling would probably prevent him from winning Flanders the 'normal' way, precisely because the race is so hectic. It's why there was logic to having him start attacking as early as he did at the Worlds, given the similarity between the routes.
 
Evenepoel would be the Devolder to the teams nonexistent Boonen. Thinking back it’s crazy Quickstep wasn’t able to get WVA.
I mean, Jumbo pushed the limits of the law to get Van Aert.

Looking back, that was a turning point for Quickstep. For commercial purposes they really needed that Belgian superstar to replace Boonen. With Van Aert being unobtainable, they've had to double down on the only other potential option, the one they did have... Evenepoel. And while Van Aert would have fit into their setup perfectly, they've had to sign a lot of climbers to be able to support Evenepoel in that department.

Had they been able to get Van Aert, they would likely have dominated the past two seasons on the cobbles without having to sign anyone else, and continued that way for years to come. That's ignoring the other victories Van Aert has had and has to come. By doubling down on Evenepoel, they've forced themselves to neglect their cobbles squad and it arguably cost them Almeida as well. With his contract now running until 2026 and lots of support signings in place as well, they are completely locked in.

And Evenepoel will have to do a lot to make that degree of investment worthwhile. Winning WT stage races, TT worlds and GT stages, which will likely start happening soon, puts Quickstep nowhere near breaking even. Winning Liege and Lombardia once or twice, which he hasn't even been close to but could at least conceivably achieve, probably still isn't enough as they have Alaphilippe for that as well and those races aren't as important to the team as the Ronde and Roubaix anyway. Winning those two races isn't what he was signed for and, as discussed previously, difficult for him, so likely isn't an out either.

That means Evenepoel has to be, at bare minimum, competing for GT wins, in addition to taking monuments, for Quickstep to see sufficient return on their investment. It isn't even certain yet whether he can develop the skillset for that, let alone put it to use. And with such an expensive, long-term contract, it's hard for the team to reverse course and shift money from his support to the cobbles team, because the sunk costs are pretty high at this point. It's been such a monumentally reckless gamble that could mean they don't actually have the next Belgian superstar and also aren't winning the biggest races on home soil anymore. It's also something they almost certainly wouldn't have done, or at least not to this extent, had they been able to sign Van Aert.
 
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The main problem for Quickstep in recent years has never been the quality of their riders on cobbles. Styabr, Lampaert, Terpstra, Gilbert, Asgreen and Co. are very good in that aspect. But since Boonen retired they lack a sprinter who does well on cobbles. Remember Terpstra vs Kristoff? We all knew how that one would end. Stybar vs Degenkolb, same story. Stybar vs GVA? We all knew who'd win that sprint miles before the finish line. THAT is their problem and not the quality on cobbles themselves. They always have one of their guys up there in the finale just to lose a sprint against Van Aert, Van der Poel or even Kristoff. Too bad all their good sprinters over the years were bad on cobbles.
The next best thing to a sprinter then I suppose is a good, fast lead out guy - Senechal. I think/hppe he has a big win in him. I know it was only for minor placings but he outsprinted van Aert and vdP at the Worlds.
And of course Asgreen can sprint after a long hard race.
 
I mean, Jumbo pushed the limits of the law to get Van Aert.

Looking back, that was a turning point for Quickstep. For commercial purposes they really needed that Belgian superstar to replace Boonen. With Van Aert being unobtainable, they've had to double down on the only other potential option, the one they did have... Evenepoel. And while Van Aert would have fit into their setup perfectly, they've had to sign a lot of climbers to be able to support Evenepoel in that department.

Had they been able to get Van Aert, they would likely have dominated the past two seasons on the cobbles without having to sign anyone else, and continued that way for years to come. That's ignoring the other victories Van Aert has had and has to come. By doubling down on Evenepoel, they've forced themselves to neglect their cobbles squad and it arguably cost them Almeida as well. With his contract now running until 2026 and lots of support signings in place as well, they are completely locked in.

And Evenepoel will have to do a lot to make that degree of investment worthwhile. Winning WT stage races, TT worlds and GT stages, which will likely start happening soon, puts Quickstep nowhere near breaking even. Winning Liege and Lombardia once or twice, which he hasn't even been close to but could at least conceivably achieve, probably still isn't enough as they have Alaphilippe for that as well and those races aren't as important to the team as the Ronde and Roubaix anyway. Winning those two races isn't what he was signed for and, as discussed previously, difficult for him, so likely isn't an out either.

That means Evenepoel has to be, at bare minimum, competing for GT wins, in addition to taking monuments, for Quickstep to see sufficient return on their investment. It isn't even certain yet whether he can develop the skillset for that, let alone put it to use. And with such an expensive, long-term contract, it's hard for the team to reverse course and shift money from his support to the cobbles team, because the sunk costs are pretty high at this point. It's been such a monumentally reckless gamble that could mean they don't actually have the next Belgian superstar and also aren't winning the biggest races on home soil anymore. It's also something they almost certainly wouldn't have done, or at least not to this extent, had they been able to sign Van Aert.
Nice to see a thought through argument, but i can't say i agree at all. First of all, Evenepoel started winning big time much sooner than they anticipated. He may (yet) only have 3 WT wins, it is still more than they would have foreseen originally. On top of those, he has had a shtload of GC wins, stage wins and semi-classic wins. Just turned 22, already 25 pro wins. He also has 5 EC/WC medals. And he is one of the most talked about riders in the peloton. Perhaps more than Van Aert, Pogacar, Colbrelli, Alaphilippe, Roglic and Van der Poel. If you check the PCS "most popular" ranking, he's a lot more in the top 10 than those other riders. Check comment sections on articles on cycling media. In Belgian media, he is neck/neck with Van Aert in terms of exposure. So he's bringing in tons of sponsor exposure regardless. In fact, when Lefevere was struggling to find sponsors 2 years ago and was talking about having to disband QS, the sponsors that saved the team, came specifically for Evenepoel. I think Pidcock is earning more, he's older and he currently has * drumroll * one 1.pro win.

You insinuate investing and supporting Evenepoel has cost them financially, yet on the other hand you state that he is the reason they lost Almeida, which is kind of a contradiction... since he was getting expensive (because he too started winning and performing much sooner than expected) and was signed to support Evenepoel to begin with. Before Evenepoel they had Mas, Jungels and De Plus, who all left because they got too expensive. Guys like Knox, Devenyns, Serry, Honore were also already at the team before Evenepoel. So where is this expensive armada that they brought in for Evenepoel that is costing them? Van Wilder and Vansevenant don't weigh on the budget nearly as much as you seem to assume. Vansevenant has been working for Alaphilippe more than he has for Evenepoel, Van Wilder has his own ambitions and will prove to be a much more lucrative deal than signing Knox (again, which they did before signing Evenepoel) for instance. So, you're talking about Masnada and Cattaneo, who have yet to really support Evenepoel significantly? Vervaeke, is really the only rider that fits the discription and he's hardly going to be a big earner as well.

What is currently costing the team's classic performance is Agreen getting Covid, Declerq out with heartissues (due to having contracted covid) and Ballerini waiting a few weeks in order to better time his peak. Not Evenepoel. If anything, he has proven to be their goose with the golden eggs.

The team has started attracting more young riders in general. Steimle, Van Tricht, Bagioli (who is more of an Alaphilippe stand-in than an Evenepoel domestique), Vansevenant, Van Wilder, Vernon, Honore (fcking qwerty keyboard)... Evenepoel, (Almeida). And not all of them have turned into big winners yet and might need time, others never will and were brought in with a different plan. And not nearly all of them have been brought in to support Evenepoel. They have always signed guys like Mas, De Plus, Knox, Honore, Serry, Honore, Jungels... In a team of 30 riders, there are maybe 2 or 3 that they would not have signed had it not been specifically for Evenepoel.

As far as big earners go, Evenepoel has a nice contract but from what i understand not nearly in the league of Van Aert or Van der Poel. I also haven't seen him in those lists of big earners. Or did you think they could have signed/kept Van Aert on peanuts? The reason Jumbo can sign (out of necessity) Benoot, Laporte... is because they have a bigger budget. And Van Aert needs them to get the big wins as well, because often Quickstep has upended him/TJV. So far he has only won one monument, in case you forgot. I think Van Aert + the guys currently supporting him at TJV cost a multitude of what Evenepoel and the guys they signed to support him, cost. Riders you think might be have come for Evenepoel, have already started to work more for Alaphilippe than Evenepoel (Vansevenant, Van Wilder, Schmidt....).

They would have had to invest time as well as money in Van Aert as well. They would have needed to wait for him to become a worldbeater, just as TJV has been doing, just as well. In your premise, you seem to assume Van Aert would have come cheap, Van Aert would have started winning big races from the start and the lawsuit (which is still hanging over TJV's head, because no way Van Aert was going to sign that contract without guarantees that TJV would pay the check) would be settled for peanuts.

So while Van Aert might have turned out to be a great fit for QS in hindsight, you are overestimating the team's current problems. You are overestimating the concessions the team has had to make in order to get/keep Evenepoel. You are underestimating the concessions they would have needed to make to get/keep Van Aert. And you are underestimating what Evenepoel has already brought to the table in terms of wins and exposure and what he will do in the future.
 
Okay, can't really reply to this post in one go so breaking it down into pieces it is.

First of all, Evenepoel started winning big time much sooner than they anticipated.
Yes, obviously. Hence why they decided to lock in.

He may (yet) only have 3 WT wins, it is still more than they would have foreseen originally.
It's certainly less than they would have expected after his first season, though. Heck, he has 0 WT wins since signing his current contract.

And he is one of the most talked about riders in the peloton. Perhaps more than Van Aert, Pogacar, Colbrelli, Alaphilippe, Roglic and Van der Poel. If you check the PCS "most popular" ranking, he's a lot more in the top 10 than those other riders. Check comment sections on articles on cycling media. In Belgian media, he is neck/neck with Van Aert in terms of exposure. So he's bringing in tons of sponsor exposure regardless. In fact, when Lefevere was struggling to find sponsors 2 years ago and was talking about having to disband QS, the sponsors that saved the team, came specifically for Evenepoel.
I was very much pricing in commercial value in my post, as Van Aert is on a level of his own among Belgian riders when it comes to performances. The effect of Evenepoel in attracting sponsors is a fair point, but keep in mind that those sponsors are also investing with the expectation that Evenepoel will be one of the best riders of his generation. If that doesn't come true, fan interest, and therefore also sponsor interest, will slowly tail off.

You insinuate investing and supporting Evenepoel has cost them financially, yet on the other hand you state that he is the reason they lost Almeida, which is kind of a contradiction... since he was getting expensive (because he too started winning and performing much sooner than expected)
I think there's a case to be made that Almeida stays at QS if Evenepoel isn't there. I think he would have been willing to accept a smaller contract if he would have been the principal GC option rather than playing second fiddle to someone with no GT trackrecord. That might have enabled QS to keep him. It's very much a debatable point, but I don't think it's contradictory.

So, you're talking about Masnada and Cattaneo, who have yet to really support Evenepoel significantly?
Masnada was at the 2021 Giro, so would have been supporting Evenepoel if he'd been able to put a GC challenge together. Generally the relative lack of GC riding by Evenepoel in 2021 has limited his use for mountain domestiques that year.

What is currently costing the team's classic performance is Agreen getting Covid, Declerq out with heartissues (due to having contracted covid) and Ballerini waiting a few weeks in order to better time his peak. Not Evenepoel. If anything, he has proven to be their goose with the golden eggs
Can't deny that there are other factors at play regarding QS's level in the classics but Evenepoel has hardly been laying golden eggs in that department. Hasn't won a decent-sized classic except for San Sebastian, which was before (and a reason why) QS locked in.

The team has started attracting more young riders in general. Steimle, Van Tricht, Bagioli (who is more of an Alaphilippe stand-in than an Evenepoel domestique), Vansevenant, Van Wilder, Vernon, Honore (fcking qwerty keyboard)... Evenepoel, (Almeida).
This illustrates my point, only Steimle and Van Tricht are cobbles-oriented signings of that list and with all respect they don't have the talent of most others on that list.

In a team of 30 riders, there are maybe 2 or 3 that they would not have signed had it not been specifically for Evenepoel.
There's a finite number of slots on a team though, committing 10% to the support of one rider is pretty substantial.

I also haven't seen him in those lists of big earners. Or did you think they could have signed/kept Van Aert on peanuts? The reason Jumbo can sign (out of necessity) Benoot, Laporte... is because they have a bigger budget. And Van Aert needs them to get the big wins as well, because often Quickstep has upended him/TJV. So far he has only won one monument, in case you forgot. I think Van Aert + the guys currently supporting him at TJV cost a multitude of what Evenepoel and the guys they signed to support him, cost.
The key difference between Jumbo and Quickstep is that the former needed two bigger signings to get their classics support for Van Aert up to scratch when the latter already had that level of depth in place. So the additional budget required for Van Aert support would have been close to nothing, when this is not the case for Evenepoel, mitigating or compensating (difficult to say without good data) the gap in salary. With a better team behind him in 2020-21, Van Aert also probably wins more classics, possibly also monuments but 2x Sanremo + 2x Flanders + 1x Roubaix is too small a sample size to say much about that.

Riders you think might be have come for Evenepoel, have already started to work more for Alaphilippe than Evenepoel (Vansevenant, Van Wilder, Schmidt....).
Van Wilder and Schmid have been racing with the team for a month, far too early to say if they'll be racing more in support of Alaphilippe. And even if they will, they are to an extent replacing riders who are racing more for Evenepoel.

They would have had to invest time as well as money in Van Aert as well. They would have needed to wait for him to become a worldbeater, just as TJV has been doing, just as well. In your premise, you seem to assume Van Aert would have come cheap, Van Aert would have started winning big races from the start and the lawsuit (which is still hanging over TJV's head, because no way Van Aert was going to sign that contract without guarantees that TJV would pay the check) would be settled for peanuts.
No, I assume that Van Aert comes expensive and Evenepoel comes cheaper but becomes expensive, especially factoring in support cast. There is definitely an amount of hindsight here because I don't think anyone could have predicted Van Aert winning Ventoux stages when Jumbo signed him but him becoming an elite classics rider shouldn't have surprised anyone. In any case, an investment by QS in Van Aert would most probably have paid off, whereas the investment in Evenepoel remains up in the air.
 
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Okay, can't really reply to this post in one go so breaking it down into pieces it is.


Yes, obviously. Hence why they decided to lock in.


It's certainly less than they would have expected after his first season, though. Heck, he has 0 WT wins since signing his current contract.


I was very much pricing in commercial value in my post, as Van Aert is on a level of his own among Belgian riders when it comes to performances. The effect of Evenepoel in attracting sponsors is a fair point, but keep in mind that those sponsors are also investing with the expectation that Evenepoel will be one of the best riders of his generation. If that doesn't come true, fan interest, and therefore also sponsor interest, will slowly tail off.


I think there's a case to be made that Almeida stays at QS if Evenepoel isn't there. I think he would have been willing to accept a smaller contract if he would have been the principal GC option rather than playing second fiddle to someone with no GT trackrecord. That might have enabled QS to keep him. It's very much a debatable point, but I don't think it's contradictory.


Masnada was at the 2021 Giro, so would have been supporting Evenepoel if he'd been able to put a GC challenge together. Generally the relative lack of GC riding by Evenepoel in 2021 has limited his use for mountain domestiques that year.


Can't deny that there are other factors at play regarding QS's level in the classics but Evenepoel has hardly been laying golden eggs in that department. Hasn't won a decent-sized classic except for San Sebastian, which was before (and a reason why) QS locked in.


This illustrates my point, only Steimle and Van Tricht are cobbles-oriented signings of that list and with all respect they don't have the talent of most others on that list.


There's a finite number of slots on a team though, committing 10% to the support of one rider is pretty substantial.


The key difference between Jumbo and Quickstep is that the former needed two bigger signings to get their classics support for Van Aert up to scratch when the latter already had that level of depth in place. So the additional budget required for Van Aert support would have been close to nothing, when this is not the case for Evenepoel, mitigating or compensating (difficult to say without good data) the gap in salary. With a better team behind him in 2020-21, Van Aert also probably wins more classics, possibly also monuments but 2x Sanremo + 2x Flanders + 1x Roubaix is too small a sample size to say much about that.


Van Wilder and Schmid have been racing with the team for a month, far too early to say if they'll be racing more in support of Alaphilippe. And even if they will, they are to an extent replacing riders who are racing more for Evenepoel.


No, I assume that Van Aert comes expensive and Evenepoel comes cheaper but becomes expensive, especially factoring in support cast. There is definitely an amount of hindsight here because I don't think anyone could have predicted Van Aert winning Ventoux stages when Jumbo signed him but him becoming an elite classics rider shouldn't have surprised anyone. In any case, an investment by QS in Van Aert would most probably have paid off, whereas the investment in Evenepoel remains up in the air.
Evenepoel just turned 22, Van Aert is 27. You are now, after the facts saying the gamble of signing Van Aert would have been worth it. Hindsight 20/20. But you are also insinuating the gamble they took on Evenepoel won't be or isn't. I would, as i'm sure Evenepoel as well, like to live in this alternate universe you seem to dwell where he doesn't crash and lose roughly a year of results and development (it 's actually more if you consider the time it took for him to get to 100%). I'm quite sure you could have made the same argument for Van Aert when he crashed and lost roughly 7 months without knowing if he was ever going to come back. It's a disingenuous argument because it can not be foreseen, it can happen to anyone, and it is quite normal (you can check) for rider to not win while in a wheelchair.

While they wouldn't have needed to invest in support surrounding Van Aert as they do with Evenepoel, true, the impeding lawsuit as well as Van Aert's current contract would amply offset that disadvantage in what they have had to invest around Evenepoel.

You are making a lot of assumptions and seem to have this fixed idea that Evenepoel is not worth the investment, based on a flakey argument. He should be judged on what he has shown when he was in top form. Not when he was only racing as a pro for a couple of weeks, not when he was coming back from a possibly career/life ending crash, and certainly not when he was in the hospital.
 
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Bit of a weird discussion. I think investing in Evenepoel or van Aert would both have been great successes. Obviously it was clear that van Aert was a very good rider at the time Quickstep had to make the decision, but there was certainly no guarantee that Wout would become THIS good. So it would have been a great investment.

But Evenepoel is also a very good investment. He has already won a great number of races for Quickstep already and he is commercially also very interesting. Also with him it could hardly be anticipated that he would be so good so early on as logic mentions.
In hindsight Quicksteps best option would probably have been to invest in both. Perhaps by reducing the investment in the sprint section of the squad. But in hindsight every decision is easier to make. ;)
 
Bit of a weird discussion. I think investing in Evenepoel or van Aert would both have been great successes. Obviously it was clear that van Aert was a very good rider at the time Quickstep had to make the decision, but there was certainly no guarantee that Wout would become THIS good. So it would have been a great investment.

But Evenepoel is also a very good investment. He has already won a great number of races for Quickstep already and he is commercially also very interesting. Also with him it could hardly be anticipated that he would be so good so early on as logic mentions.
In hindsight Quicksteps best option would probably have been to invest in both. Perhaps by reducing the investment in the sprint section of the squad. But in hindsight every decision is easier to make. ;)
The best combo for DQT would probably have been to keep Evenepoel and swap Van Aert in for Alaphilippe. There would be less overlap and a wider spectrum to target for the win, while remaining immensely complementary.
 
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Evenepoel just turned 22, Van Aert is 27. You are now, after the facts saying the gamble of signing Van Aert would have been worth it. Hindsight 20/20. But you are also insinuating the gamble they took on Evenepoel won't be or isn't. I would, as i'm sure Evenepoel as well, like to live in this alternate universe you seem to dwell where he doesn't crash and lose roughly a year of results and development (it 's actually more if you consider the time it took for him to get to 100%). I'm quite sure you could have made the same argument for Van Aert when he crashed and lost roughly 7 months without knowing if he was ever going to come back. It's a disingenuous argument because it can not be foreseen, it can happen to anyone, and it is quite normal (you can check) for rider to not win while in a wheelchair.

While they wouldn't have needed to invest in support surrounding Van Aert as they do with Evenepoel, true, the impeding lawsuit as well as Van Aert's current contract would amply offset that disadvantage in what they have had to invest around Evenepoel.

You are making a lot of assumptions and seem to have this fixed idea that Evenepoel is not worth the investment, based on a flakey argument. He should be judged on what he has shown when he was in top form. Not when he was only racing as a pro for a couple of weeks, not when he was coming back from a possibly career/life ending crash, and certainly not when he was in the hospital.
Evenepoel signed his current contract after his crash, so that isn't a case of hindsight, QS knew that was part of the risk. I also never said Evenepoel wasn't worth the investment, all I said is that it's uncertain whether he will be as it's too early to say given his age, but that the risk is relatively high.
 
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For Quickstep the big issues are that with nearly every strong rider in the opposition ranks now having a powerful kick at the finish and them not having an Alpha rider like a Boonen, Cancellara, MVDP, WVA etc their good riders nearly always end up in a small group with at least a couple of riders too good for them in a sprint. Asgreen beating MVDP in a 2 up sprint being the one rare shock result.

Keisse looks done and not worth a roster spot regardless of experience as they have enough of that elsewhere. If Ballerini could step up that would help but the other biggest hole was the absence due to health issues of Tim Declercq.

Jakobsen will likely move at the end of his deal to get the lucrative contract elsewhere and that money would need to go to getting a front line cobbled classics guy with a sprint like a Mads Pedersen as mentioned by another poster above.
 
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