Where are Quick-Step? The tale of the Belgian super-team missing in action

Squad missed the crucial split at Dwars door Vlaanderen, are yet to win a WorldTour one-day race in 2022

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are some things that seem certain in life. To Daniel Defoe these were death and taxes. In the world of cycling, one of the constants has always been the presence of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl in the Classics.

Since its inception, the Belgian team has dominated the Classics in its home races, winning eight of 19 editions of the Tour of Flanders. Out of the 20 times Quick-Step have raced Dwars door Vlaanderen, the team has only finished outside of the top 10 twice. One of those was on Wednesday.

Tiesj Benoot, who finished second for Jumbo-Visma at the race, quipped: “Quick-Step? I haven’t seen them. You probably saw more on TV.” 

"If 15 men are riding away and there is no one from the team with them, then you are not good enough," Yves Lampaert, one of Quick-Step's riders, said.

This is not quite panic stations. The squad has won 17 races already this season, have probably the best sprinter in the world in Fabio Jakobsen and a not-too-bad backup in Mark Cavendish. It is the team of world champion Julian Alaphilippe, of precocious GC hopeful Remco Evenepoel, of last year's Ronde winner Kasper Asgreen.

And yet. The Classics mean more to Quick-Step than any other team, it is their livelihood, their bread and butter. To have only won once in Belgium this season - at the second tier Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - is a huge disappointment.

In the all-important run-up to the Tour of Flanders, the team have managed 10th at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, 32nd at Gent-Wevelgem, and now 14th at Dwars. In comparison, the last four times that all three of these races have been run as normal, Quick-Step have won at least one of them.

In 2018, it was wins at both E3 and Dwars, before Philippe Gilbert went on to win at Flanders.

This is a big deal for the team that is based in East Flanders, that has legions of fans in this part of Belgium. There is even an exhibition on at Koers, the cycling museum in Roeselare, marking the 20th anniversary of Quick-Step's sponsorship.

There are, of course, mitigating factors. The team have been gravely hit by illness and injury in the opening part of the season, with Lampaert and Zdeněk Štybar forced to withdraw from Paris-Nice due to ill health. Tim Declercq has been absent due to pericarditis, and only returned to the squad for Dwars on Wednesday.

"We are just not on full force and it is what it is. We have to survive," Lampaert said, who finished in 27th place at Dwars. 

The Belgian said that he was still on the mend from the virus, which has affected much of the peloton: "It's not bad but it's not good also, it's a little bit in between. With every hard effort, I'm a bit blocked so it's going to take some time."

There was some speculation that Alaphilippe might be parachuted in for the Tour of Flanders, but this was quickly quashed by the team, and it announced the seven that will line up in Antwerp on Sunday, on Thursday: Lampaert, Štybar, Asgreen, Declercq, Florian Sénéchal, Jannik Steimle, and Bert Van Lerberghe.

Asgreen has been the bright spark in the misfiring Quick-Step team. The defending Flanders champion finished third at Strade Bianche, and then 10th at E3 and 32nd at Gent-Wevelgem, but has been in key moves and has looked lively.

"I think we have to hope Kasper has a good day and then the rest will need to help him," Lampaert said. 

The Belgian team is not used to this method of winning, throwing all its weight behind one leader, and so it will be interesting to see if they can make something happen in the Ronde on Sunday. They certainly need it.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.