UCI World Team Classification leaders have high hopes ahead of the 18th year in the peloton.
Sponsors, partners and dozens of journalists and photographers, numbers over 100 in total, attended the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team presentation on Friday afternoon at the Suitopia – Sol y Mar Suites Hotel in Calpe, where CEO Patrick Lefevere began by announcing a two-year extension of the contract with Lidl. Fresh Food Partner of the team since 2015, Lidl will continue to supply the squad with fresh food during the races, as well as equipping the riders and staff with Crivit PRO leisure wear.
“A new season kicks off soon and we want again to be among the best in the world and continue winning. We are very grateful for Lidl’s support. Their help in being able to offer our riders a healthy lifestyle is imperative in helping them to become some of the world’s best athletes. We all know the importance of fresh produce to a healthy lifestyle and having Lidl’s stores at our disposal, almost wherever we race in the world, is a great advantage for us”, said Patrick Lefevere, who also talked of the squad’s Sustainability Project, which will see Deceuninck – Quick-Step embark on an ambitious round of cultural and behavioural changes and thus become the world’s first carbon neutral cycling team.
“Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint and we are ready to make a series of changes for that to happen. I think it’s an extraordinary idea and we are prepared to work together with CO2logic and our sponsors and partners in order to bring to life the two carbon offset schemes mentioned in our manifesto, in Uganda and on Mont Ventoux, and to get everyone involved in this; from riders and staff to fans and all those at the races.”
The best rider of 2019, recipient of the Velo d’Or and International Flandrien trophies and named France’s best sportsman by both L’Equipe and Eurosport, Julian Alaphilippe was one of the most in-demand riders of the Wolfpack at the team presentation, where he outlined his goals for his seventh season with Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
“Last year was an amazing one and I know it will be difficult to repeat it, but I will do my best. I will start once again in South America, with Argentina and Colombia, followed by an altitude training camp before returning to Europe for Paris-Nice. I am very motivated for that race, just as I’m when it comes to my debut in Ronde van Vlaanderen, where I’ll go after racing Dwars door Vlaanderen. But I want to give my all also in the Ardennes Classics, which are again a major goal, before the second part of the season, when I’ll do the Nationals, the Tour de France, the Olympics, the Worlds, and Lombardia, a race where I’m eager to return after three years.”
Another rider who found himself in the spotlight Friday evening was Remco Evenepoel, who only hours before the start of the team presentation confirmed his participation in the Giro d’Italia. The Belgian, who will soon turn 20, enjoyed a stellar neo-pro season and will look to build on that as he gets a taste of Grand Tour racing in May.
“It wasn’t easy to find my place in pro cycling last year, but eventually things fell into place and I could show what I was capable of, taking five wins, of which San Sebastian and the European ITT Championships were the most important. I’m now ready for another strong year, where I have my eyes on several big races: Liège–Bastogne–Liège, the Giro, the Olympics, the Worlds and Il Lombardia. I’m not saying I’m going there to win, but to learn, to discover them, to help the squad, and if possible, to get some good results.”
The team, who will race on Specialized bikes equipped with disc brakes during the entire 2020 season, is one of the youngest on the World Tour and comprises 28 riders representing 14 nationalities: Julian Alaphilippe, João Almeida, Shane Archbold, Kasper Asgreen, Andrea Bagioli, Davide Ballerini, Sam Bennett, Mattia Cattaneo, Rémi Cavagna, Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns, Remco Evenepoel, Ian Garrison, Alvaro Hodeg, Mikkel Honoré, Fabio Jakobsen, Bob Jungels, Iljo Keisse, James Knox, Yves Lampaert, Michael Mørkøv, Florian Sénéchal, Pieter Serry, Stijn Steels, Jannik Steimle, Zdenek Stybar, Bert Van Lerberghe and Mauri Vansevenant (who’ll join the squad on August 1st).
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen/ Getty Images