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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Yves Lampaert looks for luck on eve of classics campaign

'At this team, we’re just all normal guys. There’s not too many egos,' says Belgian classics specialist.

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Yves Lampaert has won Dwars doors Vlaanderen twice, been a national champion, and finished on the podium in Paris-Roubaix but to some — both inside outside of Belgium — the 30-year-old has yet to deliver a win his undoubted talent deserves.

This weekend, starting with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the QuickStep rider is hoping to reverse that position, and with a shade more luck than he had in 2021, it’s conceivably possible.

“For sure, last year I missed the luck,” he recently told VeloNews.

Also read: Deceuninck-Quick-Step in rare misfire at Paris-Roubaix as punctures deflate ambitions

“In Paris-Roubaix I had three punctures, and in E3 Harelbeke I was in the front and then had a puncture. In Gent-Wevelgem I got stuck behind a crash when the echelons were made. So last year I had bad luck, and not the luck that you need to win a race. So, I hope that this year my luck turns around.”

This year Lampaert has had his preparations for “opening weekend” hampered by illness. It wasn’t anything serious but a mild cold set him back and he’s only now finding anything like his finest form.

“I was a bit sick at the beginning of the week but I’m starting to feel better. It was just a cold but in general, I can’t complain about the winter. I’ve not had COVID yet.”

The team dynamic at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl certainly helps Lampaert’s chances of success. The team is brimming with talent but rather than have one out-and-out leader for the cobbles Patrick Lefevere’s squad has a revolving door of potential candidates. If Lampaert is having an off day then Zdeněk Štybar or  Kasper Asgreen can step up. Lampaert has been with the team since 2015, and in that time he’s seen plenty of champions come and go – from Tom Boonen to Niki Terpstra and Philippe Gilbert. According to Lampaert what makes the team successful is the fact that they have such depth and coverage, rather than a single focal point.

“We’ve got some guys for leaders but there’s not one specific leader. We have several options. We can race and all try and get in front for the finals, and then play with that tactic. I’ve been here for a while, and we’ve had a really good start to the season. Maybe it’s been one of the best but a lot of good riders still need to come into competition and we’ll see that in ‘opening weekend’.”

Lampaert also added weight to Lefevere’s words after the Belgian team boss stated that he wasn’t scared of Jumbo-Visma’s recent investment in building a strong team around Wout van Aert.

“But each year it gets harder and harder. More teams are investing in good riders and better material. The level becomes higher each year. Scared is a big word. It’s just a bike race, it’s not boxing but we know that they have a really strong team. Also, Lotto Soudal will have a strong team. There will be lots of strong teams but we have to believe in ourselves and our strength as a team. And then do what we always do.”

“For me, I hope, and I’ll try, but like I said: the competition gets harder and harder each year it’s not easy to win a race, and especially a monument. I hope that I’m in good shape and that I have good luck.”

What’s more, 2022 is a contract year for Lampaert with his current deal set to expire at the end of the current season. There will be interest in his signature no matter how the next few weeks and months go, but the rider’s preference is to stay.

“You never know what’s going to happen but I hope to be able to stay in the team. If not then I hope that there’s interest from other teams. I hope that Patrick will keep me on the team but you never know what the options will be. At this team, we’re just all normal guys. There’s not too many egos in the team and we have good material and staff. It’s a family team. It’s a home.”