2009 SUMMARY: It may seem picky to label this team’s year as disappointing when they claimed Flanders and Roubaix yet again, and took 22 further victories. Yet such is the standard that Lefévère has established over the years, 2009’s Quick Step weren’t the force they have been in the past. Tom Boonen’s second positive for cocaine was a clear setback, as was his step back from the top in the sprinting hierarchy. Flanders winner Stijn Devolder crumbled after his success and is no stage race contender. Balancing that, young Kevin Seeldraeyers showed he clearly can be in contention for stage victories.
LOOKING AHEAD: Off the road, Lefévère will be insisting Boonen stays clean. On the road, this is still the team to beat in the northern Classics. Anyone who can defeat Boonen, Chavanel and Devolder at Flanders and Roubaix is also likely to win those events, and the increasingly impressive Wouter Weylandt may soon be adding his name to that trio of big race winners too. Seeldraeyers probably needs another season before we can tell whether he’s the stage racer Belgium has long sought.
THE LINE-UP: Quick Step spent the winter interested in rescuing Alberto Contador from Astana but lost bike sponsor Specialized to the Kazakh team when the Spaniard decided to stay put. Meanwhile, three strong riders have all left the team, in the shape of Dominique Cornu, the retiring Steven De Jongh and Sébastien Rosseler.
ONE TO WATCH: Even Lance Armstrong can’t be right all the time and, like many others, his suggestion that Stijn Devolder is a potential Tour de France contender has been shot down in the last two years. Double Flanders winner Devolder has taken those failures on
board and plans to target Roubaix and Liège this year. A win in either would restore the Belgian’s reputation.
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