By Daniel Benson in Jausiers, France
Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere believes the team's lack of results at this year's Tour de France is to be expected. While the seasoned director admitted to being disappointed, he said with the team missing star riders Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini and now Stjin Devolder, who dropped out of the Tour this week, it is to be expected.
"Of course it was hard to plan without Boonen being in the team," he said. "Everyone understands that, along with Bettini, they are the two that take charge of the team and hold the most responsibility. They are the real leaders.
"But for the others it has been a chance to prove themselves, but so far it hasn't paid off," he added. "Today and tomorrow Carlos Barredo and Matteo Carrara will have to look to get in a break-away."
The result follows a super successful 2007 Tour for the Belgian squad, where it produced four stage victories and the green jersey.
"So far it has been a bit disappointing," he said. "Last year we were very spoilt, as you know. But Boonen isn't here and Devolder, who we brought here for the classification, has now gone home too."
Quick Step won't be the only squad to leave this year's Tour without a victory. To date 11 teams are still without stage wins, thanks in part to the super successful run by Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) who dominated the sprint stages.
"There will be many attacks, half the bunch will want to get away," said Lefevere. Perhaps we also have one more secret weapon for the Paris in Steegmans."