Brian Holm on Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl: “No Choice But To Win”

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ALCALA LA REAL, Spain (VN) — How does Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and the WorldTour’s winningest team make it work?

By setting the bar very high.

So high, in fact, that victory at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl is the only option.

“It’s not very often that we do nothing. We are here to win,” said sporting director Brian Holm BikeNews.

“The days of thinking only about the next big races are over. We are always thinking about winning, the best way to do it.

Quick-Step is no stranger to the top of the charts, and it’s that great-or-stay-at-home attitude that drives the bus.

Read also: Patrick Lefevere won’t let the Twitter crowd bring him down

Over the past few seasons, the Belgian team run and managed by Patrick Lefevere have consistently led the WorldTour in victories with the team’s successful mix of sprinters, classic brawlers and breakaway artists.

Although it’s still early in 2022, the “Lefevere Legion” is already at the top of the win charts, with six wins during the season just weeks into the new calendar year.

Talk to BikeNews in the Ruta del Sol, Holm said the pressure to win is always there, even in a relatively small event like the five-day Spanish stage race this week in southern Spain.

“We are always looking to win. We always try to win and solve this puzzle,” he said. “It’s what we talk about every day in team meetings.

“We have a plan every day,” he said. “We have the team committed to a strategy. Just now, [Zdenek] Stybar said he was ready to ride all day up front.

Read also: Mark Cavendish feels “competitive again”

Through two stages at the Ruta del Sol, however, the team is so far off target.

A break remained clear on Wednesday’s opening stage, and ahead of Thursday’s stage, Holm successfully predicted that UAE rider Alessandro Covi would win. And he did.

Belgian veteran Dries Devenyns finished seventh in Thursday’s steep uphill finish.

Close, but no cigar.

And for Lefevere, smoking the cigar that accompanies victory is the only thing that matters.

Holm on Lefevere: ‘A week without winning you can have special messages’

Holm said Lefevere was no stranger to pushing his sporting directors to keep up the pressure.

“You know, with our boss, a week without winning, you can have special messages from Lefevere,” Holm said. “No excuses. He doesn’t complicate things too much. If he’s not happy, it’s just three or four words.

Lefevere is old school, but so is Holm.

The vibe around the Quick-Step Bus is fun, but with a winning edge.

They don’t race to get TV for sponsors, to rack up points, or to feel encouraged for the next race.

They run to win, today and every day, in almost every race they start.

The pressure may be too much for some, and these people usually don’t last very long inside the “Wolfpack”.

It’s either winning, playing a big part in helping others win, or being knocked out of the herd.

With three stages to go on what is a heavy Ruta del Sol route, Holm hinted he could expect heartache if the team doesn’t get on big before the end of the week.

“Deep down he’s a very good man, but if you go on without winning, it’s not very pretty on the days when you don’t win,” Holm said of Lefevere with a wry smile. “And if you’re reading these messages, you may think you’ve lost your job.”

Right now, the “Wolfpack” relies on a slow boil.

Fabio Jakobsen is already off to a good start, with three of the team’s six wins to date. Mark Cavendish brings in another, along with Remco Evenepoel and Fausto Masnada with one each entering Friday’s action.

Read also: Quick-Step does not shrink from the crown of the spring classics

Good things are coming soon, with the Spring Classics kicking off next weekend in Belgium.

The “opening weekend” is just around the corner, and then it’s straight into the team’s daily bread through the bergs and beer tents of Flanders and northern France.

“Classic riders, they’re here are also here for the win,” Holm said. “A victory here is good for morale, also for the classics.”

The team is big, brash and Belgian, fully committed to running hard and winning hard. It might rub some the wrong way, but Lefevere doesn’t care.

It’s obvious that winning is all that matters inside the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Bus.

There’s no “I” in teamwork, but there is a “W” in teamwork, and it’s the gas that keeps the Lefevere Express on track.

Jack L. Goldstein