The man who has run one of the top teams in cycling over the last decade Patrick Lefevere is looking ahead to his retirement and says Tom Boonen would make a nice replacement.
Lefevere, who turns 65 on January 6, will claim his pension from early 2020 but says he will remain active in the team with stars Julian Alaphilippe, Remco Evenepoel, and new signing Sam Bennett.
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“Retire? Yes, I finally get something back from the state for which I worked all my life,” Lefevere told Sporza at the Kristallen Fiets Awards last night in Belgium.
“But not much will change in reality: I will keep on doing it. It keeps me young. Many people see me younger than I am, but maybe they just want to charm me.”
Working with Mapei and with the Quick-Step team since 2003, Lefevere has built one of cycling’s top teams. In 2019, they won 68 times and top the standings in terms of win.
“I always find it annoying when I’m on the podium and not the other team members. But someone has to take the lead,” he joked when receiving an award for the team on Wednesday night (December 4).
“I am especially proud that I always succeed in getting the best people around me. That is also an art. Sometimes I have to let go of very good riders, such as Philippe Gilbert for budget reasons, but I always succeed in finding replacements who don’t disappoint.”
Compared to Team Ineos, Lefevere has worked with a modest budget of around €20 million (£16.8million). Belgian flooring company Quick Step has been the title sponsor for years, first as title sponsor from 2003 until 2011 and again starting in 2017. Its main title sponsor now, Deceuninck, produces PVC systems for windows and doors, and siding.
If Lefevere does step down, someone else could keep Belgian’s top team rolling ahead. He even suggested that it may take two or three people to fill his shoes. One person he suggested was Tom Boonen. The Belgian retired in 2017 with three wins in the Tour of Flanders, four in Paris-Roubaix and the 2005 World Championship title.
“I have read that Tom Boonen is interested. He has also said it, this isn’t the first time. Tom could, with his flair and charisma,” Lefevere told Het Laatste Nieuws.
“I have a contract that ends in December 2021, with a few more options. It would not just be one person who follows me, it is a job for two or three people.”