This weekend will see elite events feature in the European Road Championships for the first time. Not everybody, however, is happy with the development, and Patrick Lefevere and Marc Sergeant have hit back, saying that the competition adds 'no value' and puts extra strain on an already cluttered calendar.
"It's only us really chasing it, but at a cost. I don't really see the point," Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad.
The managers of the Etixx-QuickStep and Lotto-Soudal teams respectively will have 11 riders competing in Sunday's road race with Lefevere shouldering the biggest burden with eight of his riders racing in Plumelec. Julian Alaphilippe, Gianni Meersman, Gianluca Brambilla and David De La Cruz are among Etixx's contingent while Lotto-Soudal has Tony Gallopin and Tiesj Benoot set to line up.
Lefevere must also lend some equipment, mechanics and soigneurs to the Belgian squad. "What on earth is the added value here? I must give eight riders to various national teams? And what do I get in return?" he asked. "They will soon contest a race in a jersey and bib shorts where my sponsors' names are barely to be found? For the rest, I am just money to spend. Currently, one of my buses is en route from the Vuelta a Espana to Plumelec. I also provide equipment, I will lose some mechanics... I cannot give you the exact amount, but this is only costing me."
The road race comes just a day before the Eneco Tour, which begins in Bolsward in the north of the Netherlands. Most have written off the possibility of doing both due to the 10-hour drive that separates the two cities. Peter Sagan is set to do both but the World Champion is travelling a little more upmarket than the back seat of a car as he will take a private jet to get himself between the two events.
"We are already stuck with a crowded calendar," said Sergeant. "Now we have another race pushing in? You see the date, a day before the start of the Eneco Tour. That is very unfortunate. Take Tiesj Benoot. He longed to do the European Championships and ride the Eneco Tour also. But to organise to get to him to the Netherlands in time... "
The European Championships began on Wednesday 14 and will run until Sunday 18. All the latest results and news from the competition can be found here.