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Bradley Wiggins has called Patrick Lefevere a ‘lucky bastard’ after the Quick-Step AlphaVinyl team won the first two stages of the 2022 Tour de France.
The remarks, made with a sense of jest rather than any malice whatsoever, came after Lefevere decided to leave Mark Cavendish at home and select Fabio Jakobsen for the Tour de France.
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The Dutch rider had been in pole position for a Tour de France spot all season and had been on form throughout the spring and early summer. Cavendish won four stages and the green jersey last year to haul himself on par with Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 stage wins and the decision to leave the British rider had caused controversy on social media and in the British press.
There was a hashtag titled ‘cavtothetour’ and Wiggins himself told the media that Cavendish ought to be to be the first QuickStep rider on the team sheet ahead of the grand depart.
Pressure appeared to be mounting on Lefevere when he also left world champion Julian Alaphilippe at home due to his lack of recent racing after an injury but the Belgian team responded in the perfect manner.
Yves Lampaert was the surprising winner in the opening time trial in Denmark and pulled on the first yellow jersey of the 2022 race and Fabio Jakobsen then powered out of the pack to win his maiden Tour stage a day later.
The Belgian team missed out on stage 3 but their haul of two stage wins ahead of their favored cobbled terrain on stage 5 has set them up perfectly for the race and proven that Lefevere made the right selection.
“All the talk of Mark Cavendish not being here, which was big news, and a lot of people were anticipating that coming back on Patrick Lefevere, that decision, particularly with Alaphilippe not in the team, and the lucky bastard has come away with the prologue and stage 1. Lampaert to win the prologue? And of course, yeah, we might have expected Jakobson to do something, but to win the first two stages … ” Wiggins said on his most recent Eurosport podcast.
Heading into the Tour de France the 2012 winner did his best to argue Cavendish’s case, pointing to his friend’s and former teammate’s experience and publicity value should Merckx’s record have fallen.
‘“He’s just won a stage in the Giro and I do find it hard, aside from the personal relationship that I have with him, if I look at it from a performance point of view, as to why you wouldn’t take him as part of a sponsor point of view, the impact that he has on the rest of the team, and the fact that he won four stages and the green jersey last year. Why wouldn’t you take the defending green jersey back to the team? I can’t see anyone in that team who would merit going ahead of him. It’s a strange thing,” he said.