Defending champ ready for another Tour of Flanders
A day after comments from Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere were published in Belgium's P Magazine, Stijn Devolder has indicated that criticism doesn't affect him, particularly not with a third Tour of Flanders title on the line this Sunday.
Lefevere rather bluntly indicated that he's not fond of Devolder's approach to this year's edition of the Tour of Flanders, despite the Belgian winning it the previous two years.
Speaking to the Gazet van Antwerpen, Devolder said, "I feel good with the team. At night I'm not really alone at the table."
The 30-year-old has done minimal racing this season, for which Lefevere was critical, although according to Devolder there are greater detractors than his boss and the comments he made to P Magazine don't reflect a rift in the squad.
"I have long been aware that many people don't credit me for my success," he continued. "Riders and commentators. I don't know what their intention is... There are those who benefit from a bad mood with Quick Step.
"Or it could be another way of getting another winner in the major races. They try to isolate me from the rest of the team. But there is no bad atmosphere at Quick Step, on the contrary," added Devolder.
Devolder believes that Quick Step's success in the northern Classics has been "too good for many people. Twice [winning] the Tour [of Flanders] and twice in Roubaix with Tom [Boonen] has made many people jealous. They want a break, naturally," he said.
With Devolder aiming at winning another edition of his home race this weekend, the Belgian was clear about the atmosphere in the squad: "I feel good in this team. You can believe the gossip, but it only amuses everyone at the [team's] table."
He also rejected suggestions from Fabian Cancellara, who reportedly told journalists Devolder and Boonen were 'done' in Flanders. "Whether he said it is another matter... Until now I always looked up to Cancellara - as a rider and as a person. It then slides away. I really do not know that I've earned this.
On Sunday, when Cancellara rides in front with Boonen and I on his wheel, I'll ride at 55 but not 60 km/h. At that moment, that newspaper will be on my mind."
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