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QuickStep aiming for 'attack mode, not defence mode' at Paris-Roubaix

Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl)
Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) (Image credit: Getty Images)

QuickStep-AlphaVinyl are in the last chance saloon this weekend as they head to the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix.

The team's Classics squad has endured a miserable month of racing in Belgium and the Netherlands, with not even a podium spot to show for their efforts at the cobbled Classics.

While La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège loom for world champion Julian Alaphilipipe, Sunday's race is set to be an all-or-nothing effort for the likes of Kasper Asgreen and Yves Lampaert.

The latter, who has been among the many QuickStep riders hit by illness in recent weeks, said at the team's pre-race press conference on Thursday that they will be in "attack mode and not defence mode" on the cobbles of northern France as they seek to salvage their spring season with one massive victory.

"The weather expectations are dry," he said. "So, I think it will be fast. Hopefully we don't have bad luck this time and we are with several riders that are getting in good shape. We can all do a strong race – I'm convinced of it.

"We'll have to come to the final with as much as possible and try to put the race to our hand. Really detailed tactics are difficult to say in a race like Roubaix. Anything can happen in any place, but let's go for attack mode and not defence mode."

The Belgian will lead the squad alongside Asgreen, who looks in good form after finishing sixth at Amstel Gold Race, plus Frenchman Florian Sénéchal and veteran Zdenek Stybar. On paper it's one of the strongest teams set to line up in Compiègne, along with the likes of Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers.

Lampaert explained that his team aren't used to not controlling races from the front foot and being at the head of the peloton. It's something we've seen Jumbo and Ineos do in recent weeks while QuickStep-AlphaVinyl have been struck by illness, but Lampaert said he's sure he and his teammates can take back their usual position on Sunday.

"The big difference is that we are a bit stuck in the third or fourth line of the race," he said. "And that's mostly the place where a lot of bad luck is happening.

"We aren't used to racing in that position, and we hope to take back our spot in the first line. I'm convinced that on Sunday that will happen.

"But we can't forget that we have all had problems and that because we're at the start it doesn't mean that we're at 100 per cent. It takes some time to recover well, and we try to be at 100 per cent on Sunday."

Asgreen, the only Monument winner in the QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team with a Tour of Flanders to his name, said that he has a chance to win and feels in good shape. He noted that there are plenty of other riders who will be lining up who feel the same, though.

"I'm at the start so I have a chance of winning, but it will not be easy," he said. "But I think there's 180 riders on the start line that would like to win the race.

"I feel like my shape has been good the last few weeks. Not every race has gone according to what I hoped but I still believe I have the shape that I need to win the race.

"I think that, with the team, we've also been getting closer and closer every race. In Flanders and Amstel, the guys did a perfect race to put me in a good position to follow the best riders. I'm confident that we're going to do the same again Sunday."

The illnesses that have hit the team and a huge number of other riders around the peloton – including Van Aert, who returns from his COVID-19 infection – will also have an effect on the race, said Lampaert, who is battling to be fit himself.

"I think there is indeed a bunch of riders who got ill and who suffered a lot," Lampaert said. "It's not that if you had a fever or something that you are OK in 10 days – it takes longer this year, and it's not easy to catch up with the guys who are in great shape.

"You also try to train a bit too early because the spring classics pass and they don't wait for the sick guys. But in the end, it's not easy to start in such a high-level race if you're not 100 per cent.

"So, I think indeed, it's difficult. But I think Circuit de la Sarthe has given me enough training load to try to be at 100 per cent on Sunday. I hope it did because the race was hard, so let's hope my condition is great."

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Daniel Ostanek
Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.