By Brecht Decaluwé in Meerbeke, Belgium
After winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen for the fourth time in five editions, Quick Step clearly knows how to ride a good race in Flanders. Is it the result of a management secret, or are Stijn Devolder and Tom Boonen simply stronger than the opposition? Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere and directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters explained some of their magic to Cyclingnews.
Lefevere dominated the Spring Classics with the mighty Mapei and later Domo and these days, he's general manager of Quick Step. "For a few years we've been below the top teams when it concerns budgets. Our budget is 9.5 million Euros," Lefevere said.
"Anyway, when realising that I had two options: cry a little, or deal with it, I choose to specialise in the Spring Classics and as it turned out we have improved our results. The main difference with the other teams is that we don't have Grand Tour riders."
Regarding this year's racing, Lefevere was confident as to what had made the difference. "Our riders were all focused and ready for the battle; they all had a knife between their teeth this morning. Having a guy like Boonen in your team helps as well. He's like Johan Museeuw with Mapei. He decides who wins, or at least who gets away," said Lefevere.
The Belgian manager also explained how he managed to get a rider like Sylvain Chavanel into his team. "Everybody knew he was on the market last year. It helps that as a young kid he dreamed of riding in a Mapei kit," said Lefevere with a wry smile. "One could also say that you have to ride in our team to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Tell that to Sebastian Langeveld," he added to a Dutch journalist, hinting that he was keen on having one of Rabobank's talented Dutchmen in his team.
Wilfried "Fitte" Peeters added his own sentiments. "We're one of the strongest teams so we knew that tactically we had a good chance to be in a good position," he said. "Also, we have to enjoy every victory even if it seems like repetition. It's amazing though that I've only been a director for a few years and it's the fourth time we've won this race."