Team Manager Patrick Lefevere and French cyclist Sylvain Chavanel speak during the team presentation of Quick-Step.
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Quick Step manager questions Devolder's fitness
As the spring classics step up a gear with the E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem this weekend, Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has piled the pressure on his riders in the hope they lift their performance.
The next two weeks marks the very peak of the season for the Belgian team and anything less than another victory at either the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix would mean Quick Step's spring, and season, would considered a failure.
While Lefevere must be happy with Tom Boonen's return to form and his second place in Milan-San Remo, the Belgian team manager picked out Stijn Devolder for criticism, using some strong words, perhaps in the hope his riders will respond with anger out on the road.
"Next Sunday if he (Devolder) wins the Tour of Flanders again, I'll shut up, otherwise he's the one with a problem. I just hope he performs like Philippe Gilbert did last autumn," Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad report on Saturday.
"I'm pleased that everyone thought Quick Step was weak on Wednesday (in Dwars door Vlaanderen). But I have three million euro less in my budget than five years ago, and that is making itself felt. I'm not a magician."
Lefevere reminded his riders that many of their contract end this year and that four major teams are still without sponsors for 2011.
"I was told that I definitely had to keep Kevin Van Impe but I've noted that he is not up there. But I'm not nervous. It's the riders who have to be nervous. 20 of the 27 riders (at Quick Step) are out of contract and I see that there are four teams without a sponsor for next season. I have time. I am not obliged by circumstances, I don’t have to sign anyone before the Tour de France."
True to character, Devolder shrugged off the pressure from his boss.
"I'm not really worried," he said. "At Dwars Vlaanderen I was unfortunate to be too far back. I'd also done a big block of training that only ended on Sunday. I saw that Fabian Cancellara had been trying to stir things up between me and Boonen at Tirreno-Adriatico but we had a good laugh about it on Wednesday night. It's no big deal."
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