Julian Alaphilippe, Sam Bennett, Mark Cavendish, Remco Evenepoel, Fabio Jakobsen and Yves Lampaert all talked about their goals and expectations for this season.
Altea played host to the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team presentation, an unusual one – but attuned to the circumstances – with the 30 riders that make up our 2021 roster interacting with members of the media through a digital press conference. As we prepare to kick off our season, which we will start in earnest at the beginning of February, the expectations are again high after the team concluded each of the previous years at the top of the victory classification.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere underlined the importance of a sense of normality in the circumstances, with the calendar going ahead as scheduled: “Hopefully we can race as soon as possible. It continues to be a strange situation, but we’ll try to get over everything, just like we did last year, when we faced this – at that time – completely new situation. Last season was very awkward and complicated, but we still performed. We tried again to win as much as possible, we had both quality and quantity, and we hope for a repeat of this scenario in 2021.”
One of the first riders to speak Wednesday afternoon was Remco Evenepoel, who prematurely ended his season in 2020 after crashing at Il Lombardia. The soon to be 21-year-old announced that he will postpone his return to racing, as he is still experiencing some pain as consequence of his injury: “We don’t know yet when and where I will be able to restart. I want to give myself and my body the time it needs to get to 100% before returning on the bike. I am not panicking, as the goal is to be on schedule in February. This year, I will once again aim for the Giro d’Italia. The team's amazing display at the race in 2020 motivated me and I want to be at the start to discover the race and its fantastic fans, but for the moment my biggest goal is to make a full recovery.”
Another rider who is on the mend after crashing last August is Fabio Jakobsen. The former Dutch Champion, a winner of 18 races in the pro ranks, talked about his recovery and how important it is for him to be back with the team: “Right now I am riding my bike again, doing training rides with the guys here. The feeling on the bike is ok and for now it’s going slowly but steadily towards feeling again a professional bike rider. Everybody here at Deceuninck – Quick-Step supported me and I am grateful for that. Being now at the side of last year’s best Tour de France sprinter and the biggest sprinter in the history of the race gives me a huge motivation. I still don’t know when I will be back to racing, as in February I am scheduled for another surgery, but the most important thing is that I am here with the guys. I can’t tell you what it means for me after the worst experience of my life. This team is like a family, we spend time with each other, we care for each other, and I’m just happy to be with them.”
Last year was an unforgettable one for Sam Bennett. Having joined Deceuninck – Quick-Step before the start of the season, the Irish Champion made a splash on the very first day of the World Tour calendar, taking the win and the leader’s jersey at stage 1 of the Tour Down Under. It augured well for what was to come in September, when he returned at the start of the Tour de France after four years and captured two memorable victories en route to an historic triumph in the points classification. By doing this, he joined Sean Kelly as the only Irishmen to have won the prestigious green jersey, a career-defining performance for Bennett, who wrapped his season at the Vuelta a España by claiming another stage victory.
“I don’t know if I can top 2020, which was such an incredible season, but I would like to get some more stages at Le Tour, especially as this year’s parcours is more sprinter-friendly. I would also like to get a one-day World Tour win, it’s something that’s missing from my palmares and I hope to tick it off this year. I had a good winter, the training camp is going very well so far, the condition is building and the confidence is there, so hopefully things will continue in that direction and we’ll soon be in action”, said Sam.
Back with the Wolfpack after five years, Mark Cavendish explained what it means for him to pull on the jersey for the team where he enjoyed some of the biggest moments of his career: “I am very happy to be here again and can’t wait to start racing. I want to continue enjoying racing and thankfully I will do it with Deceuninck – Quick-Step this year. Even if I’m not winning, I can still add something to the team, I did that last time I was here and the team did the same for me. I was the happiest in my previous spell with the team and having the opportunity to be here again is a dream.”
For Yves Lampaert, who’s been a member of the squad since 2015, the season will once again revolve around the cobblestone Classics, where in the past he took two victories and several top 10 placings: “I hope I can win a big Classic. It will not be easy, but last year gave me a lot of confidence for this season and I want to build on that. I won De Panne, was runner-up at Omloop and top 10 in Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem, so I will continue to work hard in order to achieve my dream while at the same time helping the team be in the mix in all those big races that are our bread and butter.”
“My main goal is to have a strong first part of the season. I will start my campaign next month and I hope to keep a good form all the way until Liège–Bastogne–Liège. I am still recovering after my crash in Flanders last November, and although I’ve made some improvements since December, I still need a few weeks to be fully fit”, said Julian Alaphilippe, the fourth Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider in history to have won the World Road Race Championships. “I hope for a solid Classics campaign and to return at the start of De Ronde, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what races I will do, the most important thing is to perform like I did in the last years and to enjoy every day I spend in the rainbow jersey.”
Photo credit: ©Wout Beel