'For years it has been our ambition as a team to be more than Mathieu van der Poel', says Alpecin-Fenix manager

The Belgian UCI ProTeam have been the second most successful team in the Grand Tours this season

Alpecin-Fenix at the 2021 Vuelta
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alpecin-Fenix have been known for a few years now as the team of Mathieu van der Poel, but as they've grown in the discipline of road cycling that has started to change.

The Belgian UCI ProTeam has been the second most successful team at the three Grand Tours in 2021, behind only Deceuninck - Quick-Step thanks to their stellar new sprint talents.

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Team manager, Philip Roodhooft told Het Nieuwsblad after Jasper Philipsen won his second stage at the Vuelta a España: "For years it has been our ambition as a team to be more than Mathieu. Expressing that ambition is one thing, realising it is another. We worked hard for that every day. Mathieu has created time and space for us to realize that ambition, because he always made sure that we won.

"And he still does that. At the same time, it is our duty to Mathieu to ensure that not all the pressure falls on his shoulders. I think that after today we can once again say that we succeeded. Or at the very least it is working."

Van der Poel has brought some of the team's biggest wins with the Tour of Flanders victory in 2020 as well as stage two of the Tour de France and a six-day stint in the yellow jersey, not to mention his success in cyclo-cross and mountain biking.

But sprinters Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen have brought unprecedented success to the team as well. Merlier won the second stage of the Giro d'Italia and then the third stage at the Tour, while Philipsen has taken two wins so far at the Vuelta.

Alpecin-Fenix managed to pull off two quite outstanding achievements by winning the second stage of every Grand Tour, but also the first bunch sprint of each Grand Tour too with Van der Poel only getting one of those wins.

Roodhooft said that they almost seem used to getting these big wins now, but it means a lot when they look back at what they have achieved. With the racing season stretching out until October, the team still has some lofty goals to aim for.

"I already know that it is a year that we will remember for a long time," Roodhooft said. "And it's not over yet. There is still something to come: the rest of the Vuelta, the World Championships, Paris-Roubaix"

The last three will fall under Van der Poel's responsibility, but a strong Vuelta and a potential go at the green jersey for Philipsen are still on the cards.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.