Paris-Roubaix teams will fail against the Quick-Step Floors’ might if they cannot change their tactics for Sunday’s cobbled Classic in Northern France.
Yves Lampaert, one of Quick-Step’s Classic contenders with Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra, suggested that their rivals appear confused when it comes to dealing with his team’s strength.
“For the other teams, it is really a mystery when they have to race with us,” Dwars door Vlaanderen victor Lampaert told Het Nieuwsblad after Terpstra’s win.
“For Roubaix, they still have to adjust their tactics, because at this moment, they are being led to the slaughter.”
Quick-Step team-mate and 2017 winner Philippe Gilbert placed third in the Tour of Flanders, while Zdenek Stybar attacked multiple times to soften their rivals ahead of Terpstra’s move.
Terpstra followed the attack from Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) after the Kruisberg, joining the Italian and then dropping him with 26 kilometres remaining.
“You never change a winning strategy,” Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere explained. “We have several riders who can win this race. We don’t have to control the others, the others have to control us.”
Rival teams may have stronger riders, but lack the strength in numbers. Peter Sagan’s coach and sports director at Bora-Hansgrohe, Patxi Vila lamented over this issue.
“Simply put, Quick-Step was what we expected. They have more [star] riders and they played their cards perfectly,” Vila said.
“They will do their race [in Paris-Roubaix] and we will try to solve the equation of one or two against three or four.”
Sagan has super helpers like Daniel Oss and Marcus Burghardt, while Greg Van Avermaet can rely on his BMC Racing men Stefan Küng and Jürgen Roelandts.
“We are very close with each other in terms of level with our four men,” Lampaert continued. “If you are not at the front yourself, you can stop. It’s also fun and not that difficult. Moreover, you know that your chance can come if the race comes together again.”
Niki Terpstra, the Dutchman who won the 2014 Paris-Roubaix thanks to the team strength, paid tribute to Quick-Step Floors.
“Sometimes you give some and sometimes you get something back,” Terpstra said.
“Last year for example, I was third over here and I was the break for Gilbert who was in front. But the whole year around, I try to be a good team-mate.”
Another factor, Quick-Step’s star over the last decade, Tom Boonen retired last year after Paris-Roubaix. The focus appears to be less centralised in the Belgian WorldTour team.
“Somehow, Tom’s departure may have freed us,” Lampaert explained. “Tom took a lot of pressure, but when it came to it, we always had to ride for him.
“Tom was a super cool guy and we miss him, but as the team is going now, it’s just great.”