Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena says that the team needs to turn the page and move forward after a disappointing Tour of Flanders. The team are now looking to Paris-Roubaix to take a win out during this year’s spring campaign.
Having looked like they might be back on track with John Degenkolb’s second place at Gent-Wevelgem eight days ago, Trek appeared to be back to square one at Flanders. While Degenkolb and Jasper Stuyven made the top 30, last year’s runner-up Mads Pedersen failed to finish. The young Dane subsequently went around all of the members of the team, from directeur sportifs to soigneurs, apologising for the result.
There were high expectations coming into this spring, and the poor performance has left the team scratching their heads.
“If you exclude Gent-Wevelgem, it’s a big block of the Classics that we are really suffering on the cobbled climbs. I think that’s something we are analysing why we aren’t in front there,” Guercilena told Cyclingnews. “We will wait until the end of the Classics and then we will define what the problem was.
“It is a big disappointment for us because, obviously, this is not the level we want to be. Now, we need to turn the page and look at next week for Paris-Roubaix.”
Stuyven, who finished in the top 10 of all but one of the Classics he rode last season, was Trek’s best finisher on Sunday, coming home in 19th place at 1:19 behind the winner Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First). Degenkolb was next home a minute behind his teammate. The German tried to light the race up early but paid for his efforts on the Kruisberg/Hotond with a little under 30 kilometres to go.
“I shot my power a little bit too early. It was already really hard from the Muur on. I tried a few times, anyway it was good that Jasper and me were in that front group there, after the Muur, but then I tried a few times to go in an early attack, I opened the final early but then at one point I was empty,” Degenkolb told Cyclingnews before riding off when Cyclingnews made mention of Trek’s difficult Classics campaign.
He’d ridden about four feet when he looked back and shouted a cursory ‘sorry’ over his shoulder, before carrying on towards the team bus in Oudenaarde’s Grote Markt.
It is easy to understand why the team is frustrated. The Classics can often feel like banging your head against a wall if things aren’t going your way. And, once they get going, it can be hard to turn your fortunes around. It is not impossible, and Guercilena is staying upbeat with still one more chance on the cobbles and a long season ahead.
“We can’t say that it is high, but we are not down,” he said when asked of the team’s morale. “This is the same group of riders that we had last season, and last season we were always in the top 10 and even second in Flanders. We have a group of very professional riders. This season is not going how we wanted, and we will try to make it better next Sunday and then we will have a very long season in front of us.”
Guercilena noted that it seemed to be the climbs that were the team’s undoing, with flatter races such as Gent-Wevelgem going more to their liking. With no climbs to contend with this weekend, he is more hopeful of a good result.
“So far, we have had better results when it is flat, so we believe that we can be better then,” he said.
When asked by Cyclingnews if he thought the team could turn their fortunes around, Guercilena gave a simple reply, “We have to.”