Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s first training camp ‘a bright spot’

Team gathers in Belgium to scout classics routes, though the main focus is on rebuilding rider unity.

After months apart, Deceuninck-Quick-Step‘s “wolfpack” is back together.

The Belgian team has sent a selection of its classics team to the Flemish Ardennes this week to hold a group training camp focused on scouting routes for this fall’s one-day races. Bringing riders back together for the first time after months of lockdown was also a key motive for the squad famed for its closely-knit team dynamic.

“The goal is mainly to be together with the team again, to stimulate that group feeling again, not to hold structured training sessions,” said team coach Koen Pelgrim.

“We are a group, a team and we have not seen each other in recent months,” he continued. “Their training sessions were also quite lonely or monotonous, this stage was a first bright spot to look forward to and at the same time it now gives them the opportunity to explore some classics.”

Non-Belgian riders are staying in a holiday home the team has taken over for the duration, while local riders are traveling to join them on a day-to-day basis. The likes of Julian Alaphilippe, Bob Jungels, Fabio Jakobsen, and Kasper Asgreen are all in attendance.

Along with riding sections of key races such as Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem, the team is trialing safety protocol it hopes to implement when racing resumes, and will be testing riders and staff for COVID-19 on a daily basis.

Pelgrim was confident that his riders will be in shape after the spring racing stop. With much of the squad living in Belgium where lockdown regulations were more relaxed than countries such as Spain, France, or Italy, the majority of the team has been training out on the open road through spring.

“I think everyone will be fine,” Pelgrim said. “It is not that they have been idle in recent months. The training schedules were followed up and a few tests were carried out. But we really do not do this internship to see how far the riders are, but just to really be together again. I don’t think I’ll be in for any surprises.”

The team is also hosting a 50-man training camp at altitude in Italy through July.

Elsewhere, Bora-Hansgrohe has been holding its first training camp since the COVID shutdown in the Austrian Alps this week.