Tom Steels: “We found out that Julian can handle Flanders”

Tom Steels: “We found out that Julian can handle Flanders”

Sunday 18 October 2020 - 18:17

Elegant – Quick-Step’s sports director shared his thoughts after an eventful Ronde van Vlaanderen.

We started the race with a lot of confidence in Julian, but also with a question mark, because it was his first time here. Ok, he was in very good form, as shown by his Brabantse Pijl victory, but Flanders is something completely different and we were really eager to see how he would fare in a race as brutal as De Ronde.

Coming at the start, we knew that Van Aert and Van der Poel were the big favourites, that’s why we started pulling at the front with Tim later than usual, only ahead of the first cobblestone sector. Yves and Zdenek also chipped in, helping to claw back time, and once the breakaway wasn’t dangerous anymore, we returned to our original plan.

Julian was so calm and impressive today, we could all see it in the way he climbed the Oude Kwaremont the first time the race went there. Even Yves told us after the race that he couldn’t believe the way he was going there. It was incredible to see him attack on the cobbles on several occasions and even on the flat, always active in the last 50 kilometers, trying to make the difference, which he did.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t fight for the win because of that incident with 35 kilometers to go. Cycling is a sport that involves a lot of risks, but some of these should be taken out from races. We aren’t pointing the finger, we aren’t blaming anybody, just saying that the moto should have been more careful, they had enough room to let the riders pass. Lessons should be learned from what happened, so that this kind of incidents are avoided in the future.

It’s a real pity that we and the race lost the World Champion like this. He was in sparkling form and we would have had a great three-way battle for victory. On the other hand, we found out that Julian can handle this demanding race, which is very promising for the future. Another thing that we can take from this race is that the team was very sharp and always there, which makes us sad that we can’t go to Paris-Roubaix. We completely understand the situation, but also know that Zdenek, Yves, Kasper or Florian could have all been in the mix for victory next Sunday in case of a race.

 

Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images

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