After starting their Ardennes training camp on Monday, the Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders crossed the Belgian border to scout the Ronde van Vlaanderen course. Scheduled for October 18, the Tour of Flanders’ 104th edition is expected to be a four-hour endeavor traversing many of the iconic cobbled climbs including the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, Eikenberg and Koppenberg.
Among those preparing for the Classic was Julian Alaphilippe, 2019’s Velo d’Or recipient. The 28-year-old is set to make his debut in the race four months from now and got his taste of the cobbles and hills that have contributed to the ever-lasting appeal and legend of Flanders.
“I was very happy to see my teammates, sports directors and the rest of the staff during these three days. You could see and feel how happy everyone was to be here. At the end of the day, the Wolfpack is still the Wolfpack, and that’s one of the things that matter the most.”
“Doing a recon of Flanders was exciting, and although it was my first time here, I learned many things, got a lot of advice – like for example, from Dries, who lives not far from the Oude Kwaremont, a hill that we climbed a couple of times today – and had a great opportunity to take on this legendary route! Everybody knows that De Ronde is an iconic race and to discover it is a challenge for me. Having this goal of being on the start line this year motivates me a lot and makes me eager to be there in four months’ time. I don’t know how I will perform, but what I do know is that I’ll work hard for my condition, so I can do my best here.”
“I’m happy with the past few days. It’s been good for the riders. They had fun, it was nice to see that the team vibe was still there. During the training rides it wasn’t always just two by two, there was some competition between the guys, and this led to a great atmosphere. It was a welcome change from the past months, in which they had to train mostly alone.”
“We did a long recon of Gent-Wevelgem and twice the final part of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. There have been some changes to the course, so it was useful to go and have a look. That was more important than having structured training sessions.
“With the various climbs and cobbled sections that we tackled, all with a different gradient or difficulty, that would also be kind of hard. We know that Julian is very strong on shorter climbs, but cobbled climbs aren’t the same. It was good for him to take on the Flemish cobbled climbs with his teammates.
“Now the guys will have a calm couple of days after which they will start training again towards our next training camp in Val di Fassa (Passo San Pellegrino). That will be more organized, structured training days to get everyone ready for the restart of the season”, concluded Pelgrim.
MEET THE 2020 DECEUNINCK – QUICK-STEP SQUAD
RBA/DQS Photos: DQS