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Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere and Tom Boonen.
Team boss refuses to panic ahead of spring campaign
Patrick Lefevere is refusing to panic despite Quick Step's sluggish start to the 2011 season. The Belgian team has racked up just two wins but as yet have not scored a single point in the WorldTour rankings, leaving them rock bottom of the team listings after three months of racing.
With the Belgian Classics about to move into full swing the experienced team boss is adamant that he and his riders should be judged after the spring campaign.
"I can't deny we have zero points. It's too early to judge us though. We have a lot of injured riders, two of them crashed in Paris-Nice, Chavanel was ill and Boonen was ill. You can't read too much into the season so far," Lefevere told Cyclingnews on the eve of Dwars Vlaanderen.
"I remember back in 2001 when we were in a similar position and we ended up getting first second and third in Paris-Roubaix. Don't judge us before the Classics finish."
Lefevere's belief in the likes of Tom Boonen will be put to the test over the coming weeks. Although he is one of the favourites for nearly all the one-day races he enters in the spring, Boonen has not won a monument since Paris-Roubaix in 2009 and in 2010 he was outclassed by an unbeatable Fabian Cancellara.
Quick Step also lost the services of several riders in the off season, including double Flanders winner, Stijn Devolder.
"Why should we change things after so many years? For the last 15 years we've been winning at least one major Classic every year so I don't need a need make a difference," Lefevere added.
"I get asked if we are as strong as last year all the time. Of course there are some good riders who have gone but it's all about money and budget but please don't make final decision about our team now. Call me after Liege and we'll talk. I've had to repeat that answer every year for the last 15 years."
While Lefevere was quick to defend his riders and his recruitment policy he did add that as the sport has developed so had team budgets and that although his squad received a cash injection at the tail-end of last season, they're still scrapping in the transfer market while bigger teams flex their financial clout.
"Of course we're still confident but we're working as hard as we can. I've always put quality over quantity. I don't think we're one of the strongest teams and it's hard to fight against teams that have 50 per cent more budget than we have. If someone has five million more than you it changes things."