Quick-Step Floors team manager Patrick Lefevere was all smiles in the finishing straight of stage 1 Sunday at the Tour of California after watching his team do a textbook job of delivering sprinter Marcel Kittel to a dominate stage win.
Kittel had plenty of time to celebrate and still beat Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) by several bike lengths after his team dropped him off on the front of the bike race after three tricky finishing circuits.
"I'm happy with this one, and everything that comes now, because there are a few hill stages that he cannot win, but we have other riders here. I think he can win one more," Lefevere said of his German fast man.
Quick-Step has been a regular feature at the Tour of California since the team's first appearance in 2007. The Belgian super team has been at every edition of the race since, except an absence in 2011.
"I was here many times," Lefevere said when asked about his personal experience with the race. "I was here the famous time when we had the picture with Tom Boonen with [then-Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger. It went worldwide."
This is the first year the Tour of California has been a WorldTour race, but Lefevere said the race's UCI ranking has little influence on his team's participation or approach to the race. "For us it changes nothing," he said. "It's kind of an obligation even without WorldTour. Our sponsor, Specialized, one of our long-term sponsors, lives on the parcours, so we are more or less obligated to come. So for us it doesn't change anything that it is WorldTour."
There is one change for Quick-Step at the race that Lefevere was not happy about, however, saying the team was actually given less money to be at the race than in the past.
"And that's a nice thing in cycling," he said with a large dose of sarcasm. "You become WorldTour and they give you less money. I'm not happy with it. We as teams are stupid, and we accept it."
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