Alaphilippe, Bennett, Jungels in action as Deceuninck-Quick-Step pulls no punches at Paris-Nice

Belgian team send all-star lineup to Paris-Nice as rival outfits pull out amid coronavirus fears, Lefevere pledges confidence in safety of race.

Photo: Getty Images

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Deceuninck-Quick-Step is holding nothing back with its lineup for Paris-Nice.

Tour de France hero Julian Alaphilippe and super-sprinter Sam Bennett will lead the Belgian team at the race, starting Sunday. Supporting them will be a powerhouse squad that includes Bob Jungels, Zdenek Stybar, Yves Lampaert, and Kasper Asgreen.

“Paris-Nice is one of the most prestigious stage races of the calendar and we are heading there determined to get some good results and add to the 15 stages won at the past editions,” said sport director Tom Steels.

“We have two leaders, Julian and Sam, who will both find stages that suit them and will be supported by a strong team comprising riders who have shown a good form recently and can control the race, but at the same time, seize the opportunity if it arises,” said Steels.

A host of teams have pulled out of the French race as they take the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to the growing coronavirus epidemic. Movistar, UAE-Team Emirates, Ineos, Astana, Mitchelton-Scott, CCC-Team and Jumbo-Visma all took the decision this week to pull the plug on planned starts in Paris.

Quick-Step has shown no such conservativism however, sending in a cast of grand tour and classics talent.

“While we understand why other teams have chosen not to race, we have decided that we will follow the guidelines set in place by the local authorities and the race organizers, and have faith in their assessment that it is safe for us to race,” said Deceuninck-Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere. “The health of our riders and staff is of course a priority and we will take all the necessary precautions to protect them, while still honouring our commitment to an important race.”

ASO, organizers of Paris-Nice, released a set of measures designed to ensure rider and public health at the eight-stage race Friday, including minimizing physical contact between riders and the public, and limiting media access. Meanwhile, Italian races Strade Bianche, Milano Sanremo and Tirreno Adriatico have been canceled and will be re-arranged for later in the season.

The full Deceuninck-Quick-Step line up for Paris-Nice is as follows:

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
Kasper Asgreen (DEN)
Sam Bennett (IRL)
Tim Declercq (BEL)
Bob Jungels (LUX)
Yves Lampaert (BEL)
Michael Mørkøv (DEN)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)

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