Deceuninck-Quick-Step ended the 2020 season just like the previous few seasons, leading the table for the most wins among the WorldTour leagues with 39.
Of course, what was very different for the Belgian outfit and everyone else was the coronavirus pandemic.
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Team boss Patrick Lefevere said he’s satisfied with how the season turned out despite many COVID-related hurdles and crashes among its star riders.
“I will be honest, considering everything that happened, we had a great season,” Lefevere said Wednesday.
“The lockdown came and we faced a very tough situation, made even more complicated by the fact we were in uncharted territory,” the veteran Belgian manager said in a press release. “It was like someone had come and knocked everything we had built in the winter and all our expectations with a hammer, we didn’t know how long it would take: would it be three, four, six months until racing would resume?”
Lefevere was among the most pessimistic as the pandemic swept across Europe last spring, suggesting that cycling was facing a direct threat to its business model as racing ground to a halt in March.
Defying the odds, the sport was able to hold most of its major one-day races and stage races by rescheduling its most important events in an improvised WorldTour calendar that resumed in August.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step saw its fair share of ups and downs. The team won the coveted green jersey at the Tour de France with Sam Bennett, while star rider Julian Alaphilippe won the world title in Italy. Grand tour rookie João Almeida wore the pink jersey for two weeks at the Giro d’Italia.
Crashes involving star riders Remco Evenepoel, Yves Lampaert, Fabio Jakobsen, and Mattia Cattaneo all crashed within weeks of each other early in the racing comeback.
“Those crashes made a big difference and I believe that without them we could have achieved even more,” Lefevere said.
“[The lockdown] was hard for the riders, many of them couldn’t train outside and had to stay in the house, but we took care of them, we helped them navigate those challenging months, and they came back even stronger than when the season was halted, just look at the results we got in those first weeks,” he said. “Unfortunately, in those first weeks of the ‘new season,’ we had a lot of bad luck.”
Lefevere is holding out hope that 2021 will be able to unfold without major disruptions. The team is already holding training camps in Spain to get ready.
“Hopefully, next season things will be much smoother and we’ll have an even better campaign,” he said. “So, at the end of the day, 39 victories, I think it was a very good season, one during which we displayed our mentality and DNA, remaining at the top of the game and concluding the year again as the most successful team.”