Mark Cavendish looks set to miss out on Tour de France as Quickstep line up takes shape
Patrick Lefevere has said the team will likely favour Fabio Jakobsen in the sprints
Quickstep Alpha-Vinyl boss, Patrick Lefevere, has unveiled his plans for selecting the team's final line up for this year's Tour de France in July, with Manxman Mark Cavendish a notable exclusion.
The Belgian revealed his early-thinking in his Het-Nieuwsblad column - confirming that the team's initial long list would soon be shortened after the Tour de Suisse reaches its conclusion.
Lefevere wrote that Fabio Jakobsen will be the team's choice sprinter, Julian Alaphilippe will be selected if he is fit, and that Kasper Asgreen will be included and will target the opening time trial.
It’s unlikely that Quickstep would field two sprinters, so the news seemingly confirms that Cavendish will be sitting out of the Tour de France - a conclusion that’s been expected since the team’s pre season training camp.
Speaking in a press conference at the training camp earlier this year, Jakobsen said: “[Cavendish] knows that the Tour is my goal and that he will ride the Giro himself,” whilst Cav told added: “I’m a professional so I’ll try and win where I can and where’s best for the team."
If Cavendish does not ride the Tour, it would deny the 37-year-old the chance to surpass Eddy Merckx's record of 34 wins at the 2022 race, a count he equaled last summer.
Lefevere made clear that despite not being first choice again this year, Cavendish was fully behind the team's cause and will be ready and prepared if needed. “It is no secret that we are going to sprint in the Tour with Fabio Jakobsen. Although I will continue to speak with two names,” said Lefevere.
“Last year, Sam Bennett was also a certainty, so to speak, but in the end Cavendish went to the Tour. I talked to him on the last weekend of the Giro. Mark said there: I'm a pro, I'll be ready until the last day." he added.
Quickstep-AlphaVinyl have a world class pool of riders to choose from to back up Jakobsen as the lead sprinter. Lefevere revealed that Jakobsen’s lead-out train for the race was also nearly decided.
“Obviously, if you're going with a sprinter, you also need a lead-out. Until further notice, Michael Mørkøv is the best in the world in that role. Yves Lampaert and/or Florian Sénéchal have their place on the train.” Lefevere further noted.
Lefevere suggested that usually, decisions on riders being selected was a straightforward process amongst the team management. The profile and calibre of a rider like Julian Alaphillipe means that provided he is fit, he will be present in the line-up.
“Usually we arrive at our eight names fairly unanimously. It's not rocket science either, of course. If Julian Alaphilippe gets fit, he'll come along. We're not going to be secretive about that,” said Lefevere.
Alaphilippe has had a difficult opening few months to the year after a nightmare crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège resulted in multiple injuries, including fractured ribs, a punctured lung and broken shoulder blade. The current rainbow jersey spent a period of time off the bike recovering but is now back in training and at an altitude camp in Spain hoping to build form and fitness ready for July.
“He is making good progress on altitude training in the Sierra Nevada, but with all due respect: there is a big difference between training uphill with Yves Lampaert or Tim Declercq and effectively participating in the race,” Lefevere observed.
Being near the head of the convoy means that should your riders encounter difficulty, you’re close at hand to support them - and that's something Lefevre has factored in. Asgreen is expected to target the opening time trial in Copenhagen - even if victory is unlikely against the likes of Wout van Aert and Filippo Ganna - in order to ensure the Quickstep Alpha-Vinyl car is near the head of the race convoy.
“If you give up the time trial, you also give up the classification and you drive in the support car in position twenty behind the peloton. You don't want to experience that if the cobblestone ride to Arenberg is planned on Wednesday. We are counting on Kasper Asgreen for the time trial. Remi Cavagna is also an option,” Lefevere explained.
On the team's further plans for the race, Lefevere revealed that the Quickstep Alpha-Vinyl options are wide open.
“We will not go to the Tour with an outspoken classification man – even without his difficult preparation we would not finish Alaphilippe like this. But because of the trailer position, we have to stay there between the people. Mattia Cattaneo is someone who, together with Dries Devenyns, can be used anywhere and at the same time can ride a classification. Last year he finished twelfth for us in the Tour.”
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Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. Alongside his day job, prior to starting with the team, he wrote a variety of different pieces as a contributor to a cycling website, Casquettes and Bidons, which included interviews with up and coming British riders.
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