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Evenepoel said he followed team orders and vowed the “Wolfpack” would be racing to win Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège in what’s the last chance for the team to salvage its uneven spring classics campaign.
“I was asked to drop Alaphilippe off on the last climb, and that’s what I did,” Evenepoel told Belgian journalists at the line. “I know I’m not the type of rider to compete for the win on a course like this. So I just stepped aside.”
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Evenepoel, who rode to 43rd up the Mur de Huy in his debut at the mid-week classic, said the team rode a near-perfect race despite falling short of the podium.
“We did everything we could to help Julian, but I think Teuns deserves it,” Evenepoel said. “We actually raced the perfect race. I think we were there as a team today. We did our tasks down to the last detail. performed today.
“At the finish, it is the strongest man who wins, that turned out to be Dylan Teuns. We have done everything we can to help Julian, but I think Teuns deserves it.”
Julian Alaphilippe: ‘No regrets’ in missing podium for first time
All eyes were on Quick-Step on Wednesday as Evenepoel and Alaphilippe moved center stage after a rough and tumble edition of Paris-Roubaix last weekend.
Alaphilippe, who before Wednesday had never finished worse than second in five starts at La Fléche Wallonne, kicked to fourth at five seconds back.
“I am relieved … relieved the race is over,” Alaphilippe said. “I obviously had a lot of pressure on my shoulders before the start, but I was focused on trying to have the best race possible and having no regrets. The team did a huge job, it was beautiful to see, I want to thank them.
“Afterwards, in the end, it was the legs that spoke, I did what I could. Even if I had been in the wheel of Dylan Teuns, I don’t think I would have could have won, it wouldn’t have made a difference. I have no regrets.”
Wednesday’s close call is the latest chapter in Quick-Step’s spring of discontent.
Quick-Step suffered a series of setbacks at Paris-Roubaix, including seeing top French hope Florian Sénéchal evidently showered in urine by fans as he raced over a decisive sector of cobbles.
Quick-Step has been on the back foot all spring following a string of injuries and illness. Fabio Jakobsen won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne during the “opening weekend,” but the team’s struggled since then.
Also read: Liège-Bastogne-Liège race preview
The Belgian outfit’s been a major force in the spring classics for decades, but this year, the team only hit one podium with third at Strade Bianche with Kasper Asgreen. Since then, the team’s seen one frustration after another.
Evenepoel, who debuts at Liège on Sunday, said the team will race to win at the Belgian monument.
“Liège is much longer, with longer efforts,” he said. “There will also be less nervousness in the peloton because the course is less technical.”