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Vuelta a Espana

Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere: ‘I don’t pay Julian Alaphilippe to win world championships’

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl chief expects Alaphilippe to be hunting for more than world championship form at the Vuelta a España.

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Patrick Lefevere will put Julian Alaphilippe under the microscope at the Vuelta a España.

The garrulous Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team boss wants to ensure the returning French ace isn’t riding around Spain with a scope set on a history-making third world title.

“I hope he doesn’t repeat his trick from last year. Then he rode the Tour de France in preparation of the world championships. You can do that once, but in principle, I don’t pay him for that,” Lefevere told De Morgen.

Alaphilippe returned from months sat on the sidelines in recent weeks.

A horror crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège left Alaphilippe in the sick bay most of the summer. He was discharged only just in time for a late-season push through the Vuelta ahead of his double world title defense in Wollongong.

Also read: Alaphilippe returns for Vuelta stage-hunt extravaganza

“OK, he’s been through a lot of adversity. It was not an easy season for him. But it wasn’t for me either, his employer,” Lefevere said. “I will always defend my riders, but that is a little easier with someone who earns 70,000 euros than when it concerns an amount with six zeros.”

Alaphilippe and GC-challenging wunderkind Remco Evenepoel will headline Quick-Step in the next month – and Lefevere will be making sure his French captain is earning his stage-hunting keep.

“I expect something from him in the Vuelta a España, and not just in the service of Evenepoel,” Lefevere warned.

‘I thought Cavendish would retire at the end of 2021’

FOUGERES, FRANCE - JUNE 29: Mark Cavendish of The United Kingdom and Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step stage winner & Green Points Jersey & Patrick Lefevere of Belgium CEO Team manager of Deceuninck - Quick-Step celebrate at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021, Stage 4 a 150,4km stage from Redon to Fougères / @LeTour / #TDF2021 / on June 29, 2021 in Fougeres, France. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
No more of this when Cavendish leaves Quick-Step in the winter. (Photo: Getty Images)

It wasn’t only Alaphilippe that didn’t make the Tour de France last month.

Manx super-sprinter Mark Cavendish was relegated in favor of Fabio Jakobsen for the 2022 Tour, and won’t be riding in Quick-Step colors at next year’s race either.

Also read: Lefevere ‘Not offering Cavendish a contract was a heartbreaking’

Lefevere’s coffers ran dry after sprint cash was splashed on long-termer Jakobsen and new recruit Tim Merlier. And so the “Manx Missile” is flying to a new outpost, with B&B Hotels currently believed to be the front-runner for signing the veteran sprint star.

“It hurts me a lot,” Lefevere said of the upcoming loss of Cavendish.

“I really thought he would stop at the end of 2021 until he suddenly changed his mind in August. ‘You’re putting me in the shit,’ I said. I still went around with my cap.”

Cavendish and Lefevere enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship. Three years together in the middle of last decade and a phenomenal return to form at last year’s Tour saw an unlikely Belgo-Manx bromance blossom.

It’s an unlikely love-in still unspoiled by Tour de France snubs and Lefevere’s notoriously stringent pulling of the purse strings.

“From a sporting point of view, he was happy that Jakobsen would ride the Tour, but he also turned his back on that at the beginning of this year. He also felt that he was not being paid enough. Just before the start of the Tour, we had a good conversation. ‘I’ll be ready if you need me,’ he said. But at some point, I had to tell him it’s going to stop. Of course, he is not happy,” Levere said.

“I really hope he ends up well.”