The Deceuninck - Quickstep Thread

Page 24 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
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).
 
I agree with this until the last point... Do we know what the that Bennett was dropped from the team? My reading of it was that he opted not to ride due to feeling his knee wasn't recovered. That's when Lefevere questioned whether his knee was as bad as he was saying.
 
I agree with this until the last point... Do we know what the that Bennett was dropped from the team? My reading of it was that he opted not to ride due to feeling his knee wasn't recovered. That's when Lefevere questioned whether his knee was as bad as he was saying.
It sounds, from both sides, like Bennett has told Quickstep he can't ride the Tour due to his knee injury.

It also sounds like Lefevere would have been quite happy to have Bennett on the Quickstep team for the Tour, and is a bit annoyed to not have him.

It's quite understandable that Lefevere would be annoyed that they had put a lot of resources into getting the team ready to help Bennett win stages in the TdF this year, and to have to change plans at such short notice. It's less understandable that he would air his frustrations in public.

The only way Bennett is happy about this is if he put EU500, in November 2020, on Cav to win a stage of the 2021 Tour de France.
 
I got the (translated) impression that Lefevere was angry (even more than just "annoyed") that Bennett apparently wasn't fully transparent, even while at the same time unable to perform at 100% (which you need to be in a sprint when you're putting unbelievable stress on your knees...). And that Bennett's actions could have possibly aggravated a putatively minor injury.

Given how dominant Bennett has been in the last few years, there's no way he wouldn't take him to the Tour unless he couldn't perform physically.

I hadn't heard of any friction between the two of them, so the whole sequence of events kind of baffled (and disappointed) me.

Still, from a pure publicity standpoint having Cav there, even if he doesn't win a stage, is probably a tossup to having Bennett win multiple stages.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Am I the only one who is surprised that Lampaert isn't going to the Tour? Was he always set to ride the Vuelta instead?
I expected him to be on the team instead of Declercq. The whole team looks a bit half baked to me. Not a proper sprint train, but also not a ton of support for Ala in the mountains and on the hilly stages, Asgreen will have to work double duties.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Am I the only one who is surprised that Lampaert isn't going to the Tour? Was he always set to ride the Vuelta instead?
He’s in good form now but seemed below par earlier in the season. Maybe that’s when the decision was made.
I doubt he’ll be doing the Vuelta. Binckbank makes more sense in the run up to the rescheduled Paris-Roubaix.
 
I expected him to be on the team instead of Declercq. The whole team looks a bit half baked to me. Not a proper sprint train, but also not a ton of support for Ala in the mountains and on the hilly stages, Asgreen will have to work double duties.
I think their team looks well balanced and well defined. Obviously would be better if Bennett hadn't pulled out but it's best in my view to stick as closely as possible to the original plan rather than shift race schedules around at this late stage for multiple riders. Therefore Cavendish makes the most sense as a replacement. Lampaert is one of many riders who is going to be better off (personally) doing the Vuelta instead as prep for the Worlds
 
I expected him to be on the team instead of Declercq. The whole team looks a bit half baked to me. Not a proper sprint train, but also not a ton of support for Ala in the mountains and on the hilly stages, Asgreen will have to work double duties.
Declercq doing what he does best.

Cattaneo and Devenyns in support of Ala (at least on the hilly stages).

Asgreen - Ballerini - Morkov - Cav as sprint train.

Looks good and balanced to me. Ofcourse with Cav instead of Bennett you go from top favorite to underdog in the sprints so you could argue that Declercq shouldn't have to work from km 0 now and maybe Lampaert instead of Declercq would have been a better fit in the sprint train but every other team always looks to DQS to do at least a part of the work on the flat stages and I don't think that will be different with Cav, especially when/if he would somehow manage to win one of the first sprints. There's no better guy in the peloton than Declercq to do that dirty work.
 
Declercq doing what he does best.

Cattaneo and Devenyns in support of Ala (at least on the hilly stages).

Asgreen - Ballerini - Morkov - Cav as sprint train.

Looks good and balanced to me. Ofcourse with Cav instead of Bennett you go from top favorite to underdog in the sprints so you could argue that Declercq shouldn't have to work from km 0 now and maybe Lampaert instead of Declercq would have been a better fit in the sprint train but every other team always looks to DQS to do at least a part of the work on the flat stages and I don't think that will be different with Cav, especially when/if he would somehow manage to win one of the first sprints. There's no better guy in the peloton than Declercq to do that dirty work.
If I was their DS I would tell them to gamble hard about working on the flat stages. There's a lot of teams with sprinters who depend more on catching the breaks than DQS in this Tour. DQS shouldn't blink there, just play dumb and do nothing. A confusing final would probably play into Cavendish's hand anyway.
 
Reactions: Carrick-On-Seine
If I was their DS I would tell them to gamble hard about working on the flat stages. There's a lot of teams with sprinters who depend more on catching the breaks than DQS in this Tour. DQS shouldn't blink there, just play dumb and do nothing. A confusing final would probably play into Cavendish's hand anyway.
Absolutely. It would also increase chances of Asgreen. Doing less work, and taking his chances in a few finales.
 
Yeah I agree they should use the no work approach on the flat stages but that will only work as long as Ala doesn't take yellow in the first stages (which I would think is a big goal for him) or Cav doesn't show he's a genuine contender for sprint victories.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
More crazy talk from the old man:

“I’m the boss. No? Clear? I sent him a message. He said he was on the bike, so I supposed he would call me after but he didn’t call me. So it says a lot more about him than me,” Lefevere said.
 
More crazy talk from the old man:

“I’m the boss. No? Clear? I sent him a message. He said he was on the bike, so I supposed he would call me after but he didn’t call me. So it says a lot more about him than me,” Lefevere said.
He's really losing it now, isn't he?
 
Though I take Lefevre’s version of events with a pinch of salt, it’s clear that Bennett has made mistakes here. However I would imagine that situations like these arise from time to time in several teams, but only a certain type of macho, vindictive leader would hang the rider out to dry in the media and harp on with increasing volume.

Perhaps he justifies it by thinking it’s necessary to maintain the team spirit and brotherhood-like sharing of spoils of the core of the team. But just look at Mourinho’s decline after his peak years with this style of man management.
 
I mean they are putting out quite a bit of Youtube content these days.

Other than that, I really start to wonder how much of Quicksteps succes over the last years has to do with Lefevre running that team or rather a great team around/just underneath Lefevre running the ship succesfuly despite Lefevre. After all Quickstep was a fairly mediocre team 10 years ago until HTC collapsed and they picked up a lot of their staff and those pushed them to modernize and adapt to modern cycling.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY