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Tim Declercq is sidelined for this weekend’s “opening weekend” as Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl faces missing one of its key support riders as the 2022 classics campaign kicks off.
Nicknamed “the Tractor,” Declercq is recovering from pericarditis, an inflammation of the thin lining of the heart, officials confirmed.
It’s uncertain when the important team player will return, but it could be several weeks.
“[I] started the season really well and I felt ready to give my best for the boys, but a few hours after the first stage of Algarve, I felt really bad,” Declercq wrote on a social media post. “We didn’t knew immediately what it was but later I was diagnosed with pericarditis. Symptoms are gone and there will be no longterm negative effects, but we will follow doctors advice, spent the next weeks off the bike.”
Declercq, 32, is winless across his career, but provides a decisive engine to help the so-called “Wolfpack” control the pace during the one-day classics and monuments.
Three more sleeps until @OmloopHNB!
We are excited to reveal the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl riders who will be in action on the Opening Weekend: https://t.co/n00yWNTJ4k
— Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (@qst_alphavinyl) February 23, 2022
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl confirmed Tour of Flanders champion Kasper Asgreen will headline the team’s push at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, and Fabio Jakobsen will carry team colors at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday.
“As a Belgian team, the ‘opening weekend’ is always very exciting. The riders are looking forward to it, especially as it will be a good test for their condition,” said sport director Tom Steels. “We have a lot of guys – Kasper, Yves, Florian and Zdenek – who can be there in the finale and fight for a good result in Omloop, but also one day later, when Fabio will be part of the team together with Jannik.”
The 2022 classics period is always important for the Quick-Step franchise, and this spring the team will see renewed challenges from across the peloton, including reenforced efforts from Jumbo-Visma, Trek-Segafredo and others.