Quick-Step Floors manager Patrick Lefevere was at the Tour de France stage finish in Troyes, celebrating the second victory of team sprinter Marcel Kittel on stage 6. After the first high-fives and hugs near the team bus, Lefevere reflected on the sprint in Troyes, where Quick-Step only had four healthy men in support of Kittel.
"It's not easy to set up the right lead-out," Lefevere said. "Dan Martin and Brambilla are here for other reasons. Julien rides the whole day. That's three guys. Matteo crashed and he asked to ride earlier. The last man, Sabatini, who keeps him in front is very important.
"With the confidence Marcel has now, I think he dares to go from a seemingly beaten position, out of the wheels. More than before, he's capable to make an extra effort," Lefevere said.
The post-race analysis from Dimension Data showed that Démare had a fierce acceleration and higher top speed, whereas Kittel accelerated more steadily but combined that with perfect timing.
"He came out of the wheels, but well-timed," Lefevere said. "If I'm not mistaken, the green jersey Démare goes a little bit earlier but again through a risky gap. Marcel opted for the seaside, the wide-open space. I don't know where the wind came from but I think it didn't matter at that point."
After Kittel's victory in Liège during stage 2, Lefevere expected more wins from his German sprinter.
"Normally yes. We expected that is was possible two days ago [Tuesday]. I previewed the finale and I didn't like it. I would nearly predict that there would've been crashes. Today was slightly better. Riders are getting tired with these long stages. There's likely less pushing going on. A few teams came to the front really early. That's good for us. Don't tell anyone. If he's the fastest sprinter in this Tour? I'd love to see the photo tomorrow but I think there's no discussion possible."
Meanwhile, the 62-year-old Belgian manager is working on a deal to extend the existence of his cycling team. As it seems right now, the contracts with the sponsors are being fine-tuned while riders are ready to extend their contracts too. Lefevere held off any suggestions.
"Nothing's official," he said. "There's always someone who can pull the plug."
What that means is open for discussion.
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