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With “opening weekend” on the horizon, Patrick Lefevere has used an interview with Het Nieuwsblad to kick off the mind games between his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl squad and its principal rivals at Jumbo-Visma and Alpecin-Fenix.
The Belgian manager has also taken the opportunity to confirm that he will not return to posting on Twitter.
He faced a huge backlash on the social media platform last year after comparing Sam Bennett’s transfer from Quick-Step to Bora-Hansgrohe to women returning to domestic abuse. He made an apology a week later but his comments regarding women’s racing in September saying that he didn’t “have the experience, time, money or desire to invest” in a women’s team also faced criticism.
- Patrick Lefevere causes stir over women’s racing comments
- Patrick Lefevere apologizes for comments about Sam Bennett
In a long interview with Belgian journalist Jan-Pieter de Vlieger, Lefevere was asked about a series of topics, from the strength of his team to potential sponsors and his squad’s main rivals.
At one point Lefevere, who isn’t known for holding back when it comes to stating his team’s ability, was asked whether Jumbo-Visma heads into the classics with the best team. The Dutch squad is built around Wout van Aert, and has strengthened heavily in the off-season with Christophe Laporte, Tosh van der Sande, and Tiesj Benoot added to their ranks.
Meanwhile, Alpecin Fenix will head into the cobbled races uncertain over the fitness of Mathieu van der Poel.
“When I hear the competition, we shouldn’t even start anymore,” Lefevere tells Het Nieuwsblad.
“But the race has yet to be run. We have seen the training values of Kasper Asgreen, he has become even stronger. He looks like an iron, but ask Mathieu van der Poel if he can sprint. In addition, we have Ballerini, Sénéchal, Stybar and Lampaert who are driving well. You can go to war with that.”
When asked specifically about van Aert, the Quick-Step boss readily admitted that the Belgian rider is an out-and-out favorite for a number of key cobbled races. However, he did question whether the all-rounder can hold himself back in certain race situations, and if he can possibly race with restraint when it comes to the tactical game of chess that often decides the biggest races.
“Yes, and on paper he is the fastest, so that is an advantage for Jumbo-Visma. Van Aert should not necessarily attack, he can send teammates forward. But will he be able to endure that in the Tour of Flanders? I ask the question, I don’t know the answer,” Lefevere says.
“I am certainly not afraid of Jumbo-Visma. I am Patrick without fear. We are ‘The Wolfpack,’ the rest should be afraid of us. And if they are not afraid, then maybe we will get support to control the course. And it is no longer up to us alone to break open the game.”
Finally, Lefevere was asked about his position when it came to posting on Twitter.
He hasn’t used the social media platform since last September, and as ever the veteran boss chose a less than tactile approach to explain as to why he wouldn’t return any time soon.
— Patrick Lefevere (@PatLefevere) September 26, 2021
“And I’m not going to do that anymore. Twitter, Facebook: I’ve stopped. I am only on Instagram, with 55,000 followers. But I haven’t missed Twitter for a moment. I won’t let losers with zero followers get to me. I’m not going to put any more energy into it, but whoever wants to can continue to hate me.”