He may have just seen his rider, Marcel Kittel, take a second stage win in as many days at the Giro d’Italia – and the maglia rosa to boot – but there was cause for discontent for Etixx-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere, who criticised the other sprint teams for not working.
Kittel has described his leadout team at this Giro as ‘inexperienced’, though they have clearly been the most prominent force on the two flat opening road stages. Other sprinters have been left scrapping for his wheel, though to no avail, as the German has taken his brace of victories in utterly convincing fashion.
"What I don’t understand is the other teams," Lefevere told reporters outside the Etixx-QuickStep bus in Arnhem.
"No one wants to work, playing poker, and they risked losing the stage today. For us it was enough to be second or third [for Kittel to take pink], but of course we wanted to win. There are a lot of sprinters but nobody works. You don’t get rewarded if you don’t work.
"You can have a flat tyre in the last kilometre, someone can make you crash," he added. "Even if you think you only have a 10 per cent chance, why don’t you go for it?"
When it was put to him that some sprinters here don’t enjoy as deep a pool of resources as Kittel, he simply said: "So what? Either you come with a team or you stay at home."
Lefevere has been here before in the Classics, the Belgian team’s traditional bread and butter, and it has been a recent trend for other teams to look to the collection of blue jerseys to ignite the race. While the team didn’t notch a top-tier one-day win this season, the team has racked up no fewer than 25 victories since the turn of the year and, win or lose, Lefevere is proud of his team’s approach.
"It’s the first time in 15 years we didn’t win a Classic, but if you looked to Flanders and Roubaix, without our team it was quite boring. We were opening the race 120km from the finish, and I’m very proud of that."
Lefevere will now go back across the Dutch-Belgian border to his home, while the Giro heads to Italy for more potential sprints in the first week.
"We’re in a situation where everything that happens now, that’s a bonus," he said, before adding: "I’ll go home and on Tuesday and see on the TV how all the other teams work for us."
• Giro d'Italia: Kittel wins stage 3
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Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist, and former deputy editor of Cyclingnews, 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. 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.