Patrick Lefevere says Bora-Hansgrohe is coming for his whole team
First founded in 2003, the squad now known as Deceuninck-QuickStep has become one of professional cycling’s mainstays. In its various incarnations, the team has won a staggering 19 Monuments, along with four (out of a possible seven) World Team Time Trial Championships, and attracted a roster that is full of potential winners on just about any race day of the year.
According to Patrick Lefevere, general manager, none of that is enough to secure Deceuninck-QuickStep’s future, with the team facing an uncertain future and an alleged takeover attempt.
Lefevere, 66, is an old-school manager that has been ranked as the most successful of all time. Over his 18 years at the helm of Deceuninck-QuickStep, he’s braved the stormy weather of numerous sponsor negotiations. QuickStep, a laminate flooring company, has been a constant for all 18 years, but a shifting cast of other industries have drifted in and out of Lefevere’s orbit. Most recently, the team has been co-sponsored by Deceuninck, a window frame company.
Both Quick Step and Deceuninck’s sponsorship agreements expire at the end of this season – along with most of the rider contracts – and Lefevere is getting toey. In time-honoured fashion, he has taken to his weekly Het Nieuwsblad column to spill the beans.
There are a number of surprising revelations that have come from Lefevere’s latest spray. Some of them may be true. Some of them may be Macchiavellian attempts to strong-arm homeware brands into increasing their investment. See if you can spot which is which.
The juiciest detail is that Bora-Hansgrohe allegedly made a play for Remco Evenepoel’s signature. The only problem, Lefevere says, is that the young pizza ambassador is one of the few riders still under contract with Deceuninck-QuickStep past this year.
According to Lefevere, that led to Ralph Denk, Bora-Hansgrohe’s manager, making the offer to buy the entire goddamn team to secure Evenepoel’s signature.
While that sets up the tantalising prospect of a luxury penthouse worth of high-end homeware brands as sponsors, Denk energetically disputes Lefevere’s version of events.
In an interview with Cyclingnews Denk said that “it’s true that we talked. I wanted to know how the future of [Lefevere’s] team looks like and where he is at for 2022 and onwards, and he said not good. Then I asked him what Remco would do if Deceuninck-QuickStep would have to close and he told me about his option on him. He then actually did put that in prospect together with two other riders. To buy the team was never a topic.”
Regardless, Lefevere sees things differently, and is now very publicly displeased. “Be warned: ‘in my world, I never forget things like this.’ I will get my revenge on Denk,” he wrote, presumably obliterating several keys on his typewriter in the process before shaking his fist at the sky.
Denk fired back by suggesting that Lefevere was using the story as a strategy to “put pressure on his sponsors … if you tell the untruth or take something out of context, to get some media attention, then it is for sure not gentleman-like,” Denk told Cyclingnews.
Lefevere has long been one of professional cycling’s most cantankerous figures, with a long history of shooting from the hip.
In October last year, he sparked a Twitter storm about the relegation of Sam Bennett in a Vuelta a España sprint. In August, he called for Dylan Groenewegen to be jailed following the gruesome crash at Tour of Poland which saw his rider, Fabio Jakobsen, badly injured. And in February 2019, he fought the good fight for the patriarchy by saying that a waitress, who had posed with Iljo Keisse as he thrust his genitals toward her, was motivated by financial gain. “He paid a €70 fine and the police closed the case,” he said, threatening to pull his team from the race. “And yet, that woman continues to make something of it. She will want money, right?”
So that’s good.
Lefevere has self-imposed a deadline of March 31 to secure the team sponsors’ renewal.