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Soudal Quick-Step hopes to be inescapable this spring in its quest to conquer the roads of Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro d’Italia, and to light up our screens with a new Amazon documentary series.
The team’s past and present world champions Remco Evenepoel and Julian Alaphilippe sketched out their ambitions for the start of 2023 at a team presentation day Friday – and suffice to say, they were ambitious.
Evenepoel and his copy-paste approach
Belgian sensation Evenepoel took center stage in the De Panne theme park presentation Friday.
The world champion highlighted a “race little, train lots” approach to the early season as he looks to repeat the winning template of last summer.
Four trips to altitude will take up the majority of the 22-year-old’s spring as he works through ambitions at the Vuelta San Juan, UAE Tour, and Volta Catalunya ahead of a Liège-Bastogne-Liège title defense and high-profile return to the Giro d’Italia.
“Every race I’m doing is with the idea to be on the podium or at least win a stage,” Evenepoel said. “I’m not doing a lot of races but they are all, apart from San Juan, at the highest level.”
Evenepoel blazed to victory at Clásica San Sebastián, Vuelta a España and road worlds off the back of a big block training in thin air last summer. As far as Evenepoel is concerned this year, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“It’s a lot of training and altitude camps [in 2023], but we saw last year that it works for me. So there’s no need to change anything,” Evenepoel said Friday.
“It works well for me to have a period that’s calm then blocks of racing which are more stressful. When I go to races, I go with pressure to win or perform. Combining that with camps where there’s no pressure– that’s what helps me deal with the stress.”
All eyes will be on Evenepoel when he faces off against Geraint Thomas and Primož Roglič at the Giro this May.
Evenepoel insists he’s aiming at a stage win and a “good general classification,” but anything less than a maglia rosa may go down as a miss.
“We know a lot can happen in three weeks, so we’ll take it one step at a time, like we did in the Vuelta,” he said.
Alaphilippe returns to Flanders after traumatic 2022
Unlike Evenepoel, former world champion Alaphilippe most certainly won’t be wanting to see a repeat of 2022.
Alaphilippe suffered a true “rainbow curse” in his second season in the bands last year. COVID, crashes, and sicknesses saw the Frenchman suffer an annus horribilis that delivered just two victories and a long medical bill.
“I’m very motivated after what was a very difficult 2022,” Alaphilippe said from the Plopsaland theme park event. “I have a lot of courage for this season.”
The French ace plans to race through the French and Italian classics before he returns to the Tour of Flanders, which he skipped last season to focus on the Ardennes.
Alpahilippe’s third appearance on the beer-soaked bergs of northern Belgium this April is set to make for a true royal rumble also featuring Tadej Pogačar, Wout van Aert, and Mathieu van der Poel.
“The cobbled classics are my first big goal of the season. We’ll see what we can do in the Ardennes, but I’m really excited to go back to the cobbled classics,” Alaphilippe said.
“I have a nice calendar and I hope to be up there in every race, help the team and get some wins. My first major target will be the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It’s a race that I love and I hope to do good there”
Six-part docuseries in the works
Quick-Step brass also surprised Friday with the announcement of a forthcoming Amazon Prime series.
The six-part docuseries is expected to launch sometime this spring and looks likely to follow the template set by Movistar and its popular “Least Expected Day” Netflix show.
The “no-stone-unturned” format will include footage from team meetings and training camps as well as from riders’ homes as Patrick Lefevere’s crew rides through a rollercoaster season of Flanders failures and summer success.
Remco Evenepoel provisional program for 2023:
January 22-29 Vuelta a San Juan
February 20-26: UAE Tour
March 20-26: Volta Ciclista A Catalunya
April 12: Brabantse Pijl
April 23: Liege-Bastogne-Liege
May 6-28: Giro d’Italia
Julian Alaphilippe provisional program for 2023:
January 25-29: Challenge Mallorca
February 25: Faun-Ardèche Classic
February 26: Drome Classic
Mrch 3: Strade Bianche
March 6-12: Tirreno-Adriatico
March 18: Milano-Sanremo
April 2: Tour of Flanders