Patrick Lefevere shares his plans for beating Mathieu van der Poel and Wout Van Aert

‘You know what wolves do with their victims? They isolate them’

Patrick Lefevere has shared an insight into his team’s tactics for beating Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel in the Classics. 

While Lefevere’s Deceuninck – Quick-Step team have already taken their first victory on the cobbles in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last weekend, the competition will only intensify as superstars Van der Poel and Van Aert enter the fray.

Van der Poel opened his Classics campaign in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, while Wout Van Aert will be making his road debut in Strade Bianche this weekend, as Belgian WorldTour squad Deceuninck need to formulate a plan to overcome the two dominant riders. 

Deceuninck – Quick-Step general manager Lefevere highlighted that his team have their own star in world champion Julian Alaphilippe. 

When asked if he had a plan to overcome the talents of Van Aert and Van der Poel, Lefevere said: “Well, if we don’t have the chance to race against these guys, then we better stop tomorrow.  

“Do we have Wout Van Aert on the team? No. Do we have Van der Poel?  No. We have Alaphilippe and around Alaphilippe there are a few lieutenants and I think with the collective struggle as you saw on Saturday [in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad], even after two crashes, we still won. 

“We can keep the spirit of a wolf pack in the team as we call it – you know what wolves always do with their victims? They isolate them. And that’s what we’re going to do in the next few months.” 

Lefevere was speaking ahead of the 2021 edition of Le Samyn, where his team had numbers in the front group and were closely watching Van der Poel, but still missed out on the victory as Van der Poel’s team-mate took a sensational sprint finish.  

Deceuninck’s best finisher was Tim Declerq in 26th place.  

The next opportunity for Lefevere and his team is Strade Bianche on Saturday (March 6), where a host of Classics stars will line up, including former winner Alaphilippe. 

For Lefevere, the spring Classics are a key point in the season as a major highlight for Belgian cycling fans, particularly Opening Weekend in Flanders as well as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.  

The team secured a hard-fought victory in the first Classic of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, after Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Štybar both suffered crashes, while Alaphilippe launched an unsuccessful attack.

Eventually the race came down to a bunch sprint, with Davide Ballerini comfortably securing victory for the home team. 

>>> Who is the bookies’s favourite to win Strade Bianche 2021?  

Lefevere said: “As everybody knows, I like winning. 

“The way we were riding on Saturday was very aggressive, we had some crashes Lampaert and Štybar. Our world champion Julian was very excited to race again in Flanders and did a suicide attack, but at the end with the lead-out of Kasper Asgreen and Florian Sénéchal, Ballerini won. We were super happy.”