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Lefevere bites back after Jakobsen settles Cavendish Tour de France debate

Patrick Lefevere at the Tour de France
Patrick Lefevere at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

It's fair to say that Patrick Lefevere was not the most popular man on social media at the start of this week. It's also fair to say he doesn't really care about that. And yet, there was a sense of vindication on Nyborg on Saturday afternoon. 

Fabio Jakobsen won stage 2 of the Tour de France and, in doing so, quelled any doubt over the wisdom of the QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl manager's team selection. 

Despite winning four stages and the green jersey last year, Cavendish was left at home, in favour of debutant Jakobsen, who has risen back to the top of the sprinting ranks after his life-threatening crash in 2020. 

Cavendish stands on the verge of history - tied on the all-time Tour stage win record with Eddy Merckx - and calls for his inclusion only intensified in the wake of his sensational victory at the British national championships last Sunday. 

Lefevere, however, ignored the clamour and has now seen his faith in Jakobsen repaid at the first time of asking. 

"I'm an old, wise man and the winner is always right, so for the moment I am right," Lefevere told Cyclingnews in Nyborg.

"I don't have to justify myself to some people who are maybe not smart enough to understand some things. We took a decision with our hands on our hearts. Mark knew it already from January. This week we called him, he was very clean and said 'Patrick, I will be ready if you need me'. But we didn't need him."

Cavendish was not the only controversial omission from QuickStep's Tour de France line-up. World champion Julian Alaphilippe was left at home, deemed too far from his best having only recently recovered from a bad crash at the end of April. On top of that, newly-crowned French champion Florian Sénéchal was also left out initially, although he was drafted in as a COVID replacement for Tim Declercq. 

Despite the upheaval and the absentees, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl could not have started the Tour any better, with Yves Lampaert pulling off an upset victory in the opening time trial and then wearing the yellow jersey on the second stage that was won by Jakobsen. 

"It's not an easy one to leave at home the British champion, the French champion, and the world champion, but we are here and we are winning, and the rest is history," Lefevere said. 

"People have to sell newspapers, but I don't care what they write about me. I'm old and I have very thick skin. I'm here, they win, and all the rest is history. 

"I don't want to answer to all those people. What do they know about cycling? I am 40 years here."

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Patrick Fletcher
Patrick Fletcher

Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.