Surprising no one, Patrick Lefevere has used his Het Nieuwsblad column this weekend to weigh in (again) on the furore around new world champion Remco Evenepoel, who has this week attracted interest from the management of Ineos Grenadiers.
“The alleged interest of Ineos in Remco Evenepoel? A storm in a teacup. Or a fart in a bottle, if you will,” Lefevere wrote on Saturday. “It’s unbelievable how much ink has been spilled over the past few days, but the bottom line is that Remco rides for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and will continue to do so for years to come.”
The 22-year-old Belgian has just returned home for the first time since becoming a Grand Tour winner and elite world champion. Along with the hero’s homecoming, Evenepoel and Lefevere have also been busy fending off advances from Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe and Dave Brailsford, who masterminded the Team Sky model – marginal gains, huge budgets and some of the biggest salaries in cycling.
For a day or two, some began to see the chances of Evenepoel taking the surely tempting package as a done deal – it wouldn’t take a genius to work out that Evenepoel plus Ineos could equal an enormous contract – but cooler heads prevailed, pointing out that the young phenom is a keystone in Quick-Step’s future plans, both competitive and financial.
In then end, it took Lefevere and Evenepoels Senior and Junior – former pro cyclist Patrick Evenepoel acts as agent for his son – to sit down for a posh dinner to quieten the rumour mill at the end of this past week.
“Patrick Evenepoel played an open hand: there is interest, in the past there has also been talk without obligation, but a transfer is not an issue. Discussion closed,” he continued. “In addition, we talked about the team, now and in the future.”
So, it looks like the weather is moving on, the ‘storm in the teacup’ has passed and nothing is changing. Yet. One thing that has not and, let’s face it, will never change, is the Quick-Step boss’s somewhat ironic relationship with the media.
“Last week was not an encouragement to be very open towards the press”, Lefevere in his column. “The conclusion of the story is that this week has made it clear that we will have to hang around Remco with the fly swatter from now on. To keep all the dung flies and vultures away from him. Anyone who thinks of joining the table or foaming without paying will be worth the effort.”