Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Thread

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Reckon there is any pressure on them to bring the French champion to the tour?
I’m sure it’s tracked somewhere, but I think there’s been plenty of times when the French champion hasn’t been at the Tour (and Italian/Giro, Spanish/Vuelta, Belgian/Ronde) and not always by injury or unavailability either. Edit: Easy example, Demarre was winning races for fun, riding for a French team last year, but his team had Pinot, so they went with a team to support him in the mountains.

The PCS start list has 7 names down for DQS, but it looks light on support for Alaphilippe, and I would think Cavagna’s most likely path into the team would be as a like-for-like replacement for Asgreen or, even less likely, Declerq.
 
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What the .. is this now. Good old Lefevre being Lefevre I guess.

A knee injury keeps Sam Bennett out of the Tour and that has caused resentment at Patrick Lefevere. The manager of Deceuninck-Quick Step questions the injury of the Irishman. "I'm starting to think it's more performance anxiety than just pain,"
"I cannot prove that he does not have knee pain, but I am starting to think more and more that it is more fear of failure than just pain. Yesterday he had to come to Belgium, but then there were problems with his plane again. Then you start to think strange things. He'll have to come anyway. I'm not going to let this pass."
 

What the .. is this now. Good old Lefevre being Lefevre I guess.
What the ***? lol
This is a guy with dozens of pro victories, and he has such performance anxiety? Especially if it's true it would be weird of Lefevre to say it out loud.
 

For all his hypocrisy I tend to defend Lefevere much more than others because usually he always backs up his riders and I can respect that but yeah now I'm really disappointed with his public comments about Bennett.

In the linked article Lefevere says:

  • Bennett told three different people on the team three different stories about why he missed his flight to Belgium to meet with the team.
  • After his small knee injury the team doctor's told him to rest but in Monaco he went to a physiotherapist behind the back of the team who told him he should train.
  • They had to convince Cavendish to ride the Tour as replacement. Cavendish tought that with his status he could only fail at the Tour but Lefevere told him he is the underdog now so it won't be a problem if he doesn't win but he will be put on a throne if he would be able to win. He has nothing to lose.
 
Good point, it definitely has the sound of someone talking to friends (if he has any) in a pub than to a reporter.
Shades of Tinkov mouthing off after a few drinks. Even if something is strange about the situation to him, I don't like the way he sprouts it off to the public like that. Maybe he's getting a bit senile as he ages? Or maybe he's always been like that?
 
It is truly despicable, isn't it? I wonder if he has a drink or two before talking to media occasionally. This almost isn't explainable rationally.
Lefevere does have a drinking problem, allegedly.


For all his hypocrisy I tend to defend Lefevere much more than others because usually he always backs up his riders
Usually, sure. His heart seems to be in the right place. De Gendt still has him blocked on Twitter, though, and then there are his disrespectful rants re: Almeida and, now, Bennett. The Almeida situation in particular I didn't get, seeing as he wasn't willing to pony up the dough to offer him a halfway serious contract extension - again, allegedly. :-/
 
Lefevere does have a drinking problem, allegedly.


Usually, sure. His heart seems to be in the right place. De Gendt still has him blocked on Twitter, though, and then there are his disrespectful rants re: Almeida and, now, Bennett. The Almeida situation in particular I didn't get, seeing as he wasn't willing to pony up the dough to offer him a halfway serious contract extension - again, allegedly. :-/
His heart is in the right place?! I didn't think I'd hear this about PL from someone anymore.
 
Lefevre isn't really living this Wolfpack thing, everybody looking out for another etc, himself is he?
Putting this out in public and undermining a rider like this is a shitty thing, even if Bennett has been having "performance anxiety".
Which, it has to be said, would be in line with how ex-teammates and coaches describe him. Very much a sprinter who needs his head in the right place and who has the tendency to always be very doubtful about himself. If that's not the case he is performing noticebly worse. He needs to be handled in a way to not let this doubts overcome him. Very much the opposite of sprinters like old Cav or Cipo who are just super confident, flamboyant and self-assured.
 
Well, either he's wrong, then he has no reason to say such a thing, or he's right, then it's just really bad on a personal level to say something like this in public about someone with anxiety issues. I guess he doesn't care anymore about Bennett since there aren't any big races coming up after the Tour where he would need him, so he can just undermine him for the future which Bennett will spend at another team.
Everything I've heard about DQS leads to a picture where competition is everything, there isn't much human feeling or style. The wolfpack approach works pretty well on the streets, but in the surroundings it's just hungry wolves, no pack. Lefevere looks after his riders when it's of use to him. Well, it's pro sport, I get that. Still some situations are better dealt with graciously.
 
Bennett has won at least one stage and almost always multiple stages of every single stage race he has started for well over a year. He has won at least one stage and almost always multiple stages of every Grand Tour he has started since 2017. He has been clearly the most successful sprinter of the last couple of years and is one of only two guys that anyone seriously argues is the fastest man in the sport.

We are supposed to think that he’s in fact too anxious to perform? God help the rest if he ever gets his head together if these are the results he gets as a basket case. It’s well known that he’s not the typical brash top sprinter but there is a chasm between that and supposedly faking or imagining an injury to get out of riding the biggest race of the year (a race which he triumphed at last year). Lefevere even says that he has absolutely no evidence that this is true, but then suggests it to the media anyway. That’s just poisonous behaviour from a team boss
.
 
His heart is in the right place?! I didn't think I'd hear this about PL from someone anymore.
For the most part, is what I meant. True, those are some messed up examples.

Lefevere looks after his riders when it's of use to him.
Yes, it's a business, but you're a little too harsh, IMO. He handled the Vakoc situation well, for example.

Google translated:

"Vakoč his contract with Quick-Step ended at the end of 2018, but team boss Patrick Lefevere showed his best side. “I am eternally grateful to Patrick for that. He immediately reassured me. "Take your time to fully recover, I'll renew your contract," he promised. That's what happened. I could sign up for a year.”

Could you also stay there in 2020? "Yes. And I've thought it through too. Because I had a great time with the team for six years, but on the other hand… I was ready for something new.”

Isn't that a little ungrateful to Lefevere? “Well, I don't think Patrick is mad. I did my job well in 2019. I worked hard for the team. No, I have a clear conscience and I think we broke up well. It is true that I was very charmed by the proposal of the brothers Roodhooft and Alpecin-Fenix.”

 
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For the most part, is what I meant. True, those are some messed up examples.

Yes, it's a business, but you're a little too harsh, IMO. He handled the Vakoc situation well, for example.

Google translated:

"Vakoč his contract with Quick-Step ended at the end of 2018, but team boss Patrick Lefevere showed his best side. “I am eternally grateful to Patrick for that. He immediately reassured me. "Take your time to fully recover, I'll renew your contract," he promised. That's what happened. I could sign up for a year.”

Could you also stay there in 2020? "Yes. And I've thought it through too. Because I had a great time with the team for six years, but on the other hand… I was ready for something new.”

Isn't that a little ungrateful to Lefevere? “Well, I don't think Patrick is mad. I did my job well in 2019. I worked hard for the team. No, I have a clear conscience and I think we broke up well. It is true that I was very charmed by the proposal of the brothers Roodhooft and Alpecin-Fenix.”

He has been the petty king of his little domain for many years, and like most despots he is capable of both acts of kindness and childish cruelty and vindictiveness. He is frequently a very good boss to riders who suffer catastrophic injuries. But get on the wrong side of his whims...

He also loves the sound of his own voice and frequently airs momentary opinions to journalists that most team bosses have the sense to keep to themselves or at least keep strictly internal to the team. It’s a strange flaw for someone who is without doubt the best wheeler-dealer in the sport.
 
With what we know -- or think we know -- about the internal workings of Quick-Step and its mercurial but successful boss and his relationship to his latest top sprinter, it is possible to see it another way.

Perhaps PL believes Sam's injury is minor or imagined and that the real problem is the sprinter's fear that if he fails to perform up to expectations at the TdF, then his market value would plummet. As far as I recall, Bennet has no confirmed contract with another team at this moment, so Tour performance could still be q big factor in any negotiations.

To be clear, I am not arguing that this is the case, or that Sam is sandbagging. After all, he is a winning sprinter who took home the 2020 Green Jersey, and his career palmares are impressive.

Nor am I trying to be charitable to PL, who clearly put his foot in his mouth once again (See Almeida affair). But I can see how the above dynamic may have evolved and that would explain, though not justify, Don Patrick's latest outburst.
 
With what we know -- or think we know -- about the internal workings of Quick-Step and its mercurial but successful boss and his relationship to his latest top sprinter, it is possible to see it another way.

Perhaps PL believes Sam's injury is minor or imagined and that the real problem is the sprinter's fear that if he fails to perform up to expectations at the TdF, then his market value would plummet. As far as I recall, Bennet has no confirmed contract with another team at this moment, so Tour performance could still be q big factor in any negotiations.

To be clear, I am not arguing that this is the case, or that Sam is sandbagging. After all, he is a winning sprinter who took home the 2020 Green Jersey, and his career palmares are impressive.

Nor am I trying to be charitable to PL, who clearly put his foot in his mouth once again (See Almeida affair). But I can see how the above dynamic may have evolved and that would explain, though not justify, Don Patrick's latest outburst.
There's no way of reading any of that without coming to the conclusion that the best thing for Sam Bennett to do, for Sam Bennett, right now, would be to ride the Tour de France as far as his knees can take him, and win as many stages as he can. Be it for his market value, his palmares, whatever, I don't see any benefit to Sam Bennett of not riding the Tour. So if he says his knee injury will prevent him from sprinting fast enough to win stages at the Tour, I'm inclined to believe him.
 
Some thoughts.

Patrick Lefevere knew that Bennett was leaving the team in February, but he's still the best sprinter on the team. Ballerini is stepping up this year, but Jakobsen, Cavendish are making a come-back while Hodeg is lacking.
So it's logic that Lefevere wanted to repeat last year's success with Bennet: the Tour is full of sprint stages and the whole team (bar Alaphilippe and Devenyns) is selected to help winning sprints.
So the most succesful team in the world is investing allmost all of their resources in the biggest race of the year in Sam Bennett, a rider that is leaving the team for sure next year.

Other teams would have chosen to put Bennett in the smaller GT's, but Lefevere went for Bennett. Anyone saying that Lefevere / Quickstep has been bad for Bennett (until this week) is living in a separate reality.
At the end of Bennett's career, it's very very likely that 2020 will have been his best year, thanks to the QS leadout train.

The last couple of weeks, some things happened:
  1. Cavendish was improving and showing some sparkles of the good old days, so people were asking if Cavendish would be going to the Tour.
  2. Lefevere said the team would be built around Bennett, and the Tour comes too early for Cavendish. This was all very logic from a performance point of view, until...
  3. Bennett hurt his knee in training. The day before the Belgium tour, it turned out he couldn't ride, and only at that day he told the team about his knee pain. My take is that Bennett didn't dare to say he was in pain (because of insecurity), in order not to raise any doubts in Lefevere's head about him being ready for his Tour.
  4. Cavendish had to travel through the night to replace Bennett in the Belgium Tour. Cavendish-the-loyal won a stage in that Belgium Tour.
  5. Bennett was supposed to rest in Monaco. He didn't do that. He went to a physiotherapist and back to training on the bike. My take is that Bennett was too eager to get back into shape (and too insecure to loose shape if only resting), and only wanted to try to do some good, but it didn't work.
  6. Lefevere repeated, this weekend, that Bennett is the big man for the Tour, and that he has no place for Cavendish. So Lefevere backed Bennett once more, based on the indications he got about Bennett's recovery. And he stated that he wouldn't take Cavendish because that would be bad for Bennett's self-confidence (given what happened just before the Belgium Tour). So Lefevere was (in his own dumb way, mentioning Bennett's shortcomings) trying to state that the whole team (himself included) was 100% supporting Bennett.
  7. Only one day later, it turns out Bennett misses his pre Tour team meeting, because either his flight was delayed, or he didn't get a seat. Lefevere gets mixed info about his recovery and the reason he didn't show up. At that moment, after having defended taking Bennett, Lefevere feels deceived by Bennett.
  8. Lefevere decides that he doesn't want a team leader that he cannot trust (because even if Bennett had all the right intentions, Lefevere cannot deal with someone who wants to please him by saying A, but doing B behind his back), and chooses Cavendish, even if that is, performance wise, a wild gamble.
Or in short: Bennett tried to do good things, but it backfired.

So on the eve of the biggest stage race of the year, Lefevere had his whole team in place for Bennett and even publicly defended taking Bennett (while he knew Bennett would leave the team), only to hear that Bennett didn't follow team orders on recovering, and missed his flight with strange excuses...

A manager can do 2 things:
  1. rehabilitate the relation, and evaluate if Bennett could still ride the Tour succesfully (face it, he's still a better sprinter than Cavendish);
  2. drop Bennett, immediately explain to everybody why you dropped him, and move on.
It's obvious what happened. The thing is: Bennett's character (very polite, diplomatic, insecure) totally clashes with Lefevere's character (transparent, bully-ish, (over)confident).
 
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