Patrick Lefevere has signalled that Stijn Devolder’s three-year tenure at Quick Step could be up after the Belgian performed poorly in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Devolder’s current contract expires at the end of 2010 and Lefevere’s recent comments more than suggest he’s not a hurry to re-sign Devolder, who finished 25th in Flanders and 42nd in Roubaix.
Devolder came into Flanders having won the event in 2008 and 2009, but was heavily criticised by his team boss for focusing on only one event in the year.
"He was not good," Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
Asked if Devolder would be with the team next year he added: "I don’t know. First of all we have to see if there is a future, as his contract is ending this year. I don’t want to say anymore but I will wait. All the riders' agents want them to sign as soon as possible, but there are a lot of teams that have riders at the end of contracts, so we’ll see a lot of riders come on the market. It would not be very smart of me to sign too early with riders in general."
Devolder’s gamble of aiming exclusively at a third successive Flanders title may have backfired this year, but after a strong performance in the 2006 Vuelta a España, where he finished 11th with former team Discovery Channel, he had been touted as a potential stage racer. However, in recent seasons he has shown little sign of replicating that general classification result.
"When I saw him the last few years in the Vuelta and the Tour [de France] he was nowhere; with no results so you have to change tactics. It’s not good to have one result in Flanders last year and then nothing. That’s dangerous for him," said Lefevere.
Perhaps most damaging for Devolder is Lefevere’s suggestion that the Belgian's isolated training regime was to blame for his poor showing. Instead of shielding Devolder, Lefevere said, "I think if you have this kind of rider you try to help him. He’s had all the opportunities within the team with the directors, doctors and trainers but he likes to work on his own, so if you work on your own it’s dangerous."
As for possible reinforcements at Quick Step, Lefevere refused to be drawn on specific targets but made clear he would refrain from negotiations until after the Giro d’Italia.
"I think a lot of the new teams can’t sign many riders, as there are only so many places available. That’s good for a team like us. But I’ve told the agents to keep away from me until the end of the Giro. If we have the money and the opportunity we want the best. We’re looking for some more money and then we can go into the market."