Patrick Lefevere is excited about his young riders who shone during the spring Classics, despite his established stars not winning major races
Second at both Paris-Roubaix and La Flèche Wallonne was as good as it got for the Belgian team who took multiple weapons into each of the races.
Wins at GP Samyn, Scheleprijs and De Brabantse Pijl look good on paper, but it has been a frustrating spring at the WorldTour Classics for Etixx.
“I can’t say it’s been bad,” Lefevere told Sporza after Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where Etixx’s best finisher was Julian Alaphilippe at number 23.
“We have 22 victories [this season], including the Brabantse Pijl and Scheldeprijs. But of course, the icing on the cake is missing. “
“Anyway I can’t blame my riders for anything. The leaders, Stybar and Terpstra, have not won in the conditions [at the Tour of Flanders]. If Fernando Gaviria did not fall in Milan-San Remo, he wins. Tom Boonen was [close] in Roubaix and defeated by Mathew Hayman, who had the day of his life.
“We have participated and made the race, but we have not won the race. But I remember also that our young riders have ridden well.
“Petr Vakoc, Laurens De Plus, Julian Alaphilippe: early twenties. Laurens De Plus has been a pleasant surprise. With him you can go into battle. The future looks really good.”
Coming off a mononucleosis illness over the winter, Alaphilippe recovered his fitness and form well for the Ardennes, finishing second again at Flèche and put in a personal best performance at the Amstel Gold Race.
Boonen somewhat saved the team’s blushes in the cobbled Classics with his second place in Roubaix, having seen his teammates fail to break the top five at E3 Harelbeke, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders.