ANALYSIS: Are Soudal - Quick-Step too reliant on Remco Evenepoel for their success?

Analysis. Traditionally one of the teams to look out for on ‘Opening Weekend’, Soudal - Quick-Step were notable by their absence at the front end of both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne - Bruxelles - Kuurne.

With none of their roster even placing in the top-20 at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last Saturday (Yves Lampaert best placed in 21st), it was a rather lacklustre opening to the 2024 Classics campaign for the team. There were of course, mitigating circumstances as both arguably their two big hopes, Julian Alaphilippe and Kasper Asgreen crashed out, with Warre Vangheluwe also being a DNF.

At Kuurne - Bruxelles - Kuurne, things were slightly better, with the team’s American prospect, Luke Lamperti taking an impressive 7th to continue his bright start to the 2024 campaign. Again though, Alaphilippe and Asgreen failed to make much of an impact at the head of the race with Lamperti more of a lone bright light on a weekend of dim performances.

Speaking afterwards though, Soudal - Quick-Step DS, Wilfried Peeters didn’t seem too concerned. “You have to look at the group we have here," he told Het Nieuwsblad. “I don't want to talk about the preparation at altitude and without many races. It's about having enough good riders. Put Remco Evenepoel at the start here and he will be one of the best in the race, regardless of the preparation.”

Is that growing reliance on Evenepoel becoming a problem though? Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with building strongly around a superstar like the Belgian, are Soudal - Quick-Step putting all their eggs in one basket? In 2023, Davide Ballerini and Fabio Jakobsen took top-10s on Opening Weekend for the team, both of whom have now been moved on as the team continues to increase it’s focus on building a roster capable of supporting Remco Evenepoel’s General Classification quest at the Tour de France later this summer.

When looking at Remco Evenepoel’s wins over past years, the backing of him has undoubtedly been rewarded, with Soudal - Quick-Step being given a pair of Liège - Bastogne - Liège’s, three Clasica San Sebastian’s, the Vuelta a Espana and a pair of Rainbow Jersey’s among many other successes. Are they in danger of becoming a one-man team though?

In years gone by, Soudal - Quick-Step would have multiple contenders for each of the Classics, take the 2019 Omloop for example, where Zdenek Stybar took the win for the team with Yves Lampaert and Philippe Gilbert also securing top-10 finishes. It now seems that unless Evenepoel is at the startline, Soudal - Quick-Step are nothing more than also-rans. Alaphilippe has had his confidence shot by constant snipes from Patrick Lefevere, Tim Merlier is an elite sprinter but not really a contender when up against the big names in the Classics, and whilst the likes of Asgreen and Lampaert are always there or thereabouts but only Evenepoel can be viewed a genuine pre-race contender wherever he competes.

So what do you think? Are Soudal - Quick-Step becoming a one-man team? Does the immense success of Remco Evenepoel make it worthwhile anyway? Let us know your thoughts!

Analysis done by Kieran Wood

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