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Some background and disclosure first – cast your mind back to late September, just after the World Championships, where Pizza Hut ambassador Remco Evenepoel was the flavour of the month. On September 30, after a flurry of articles and innuendo, Quick-Step AlphaVinyl boss Patrick Lefevere posted a photo of himself having dinner with Remco Evenepoel – an effort to quell rumours of a possible transfer to the Ineos Grenadiers. For better or worse, this led me down the rabbit hole of a 67-year-old Belgian man’s Instagram.
At the time, Caley suggested we save it until the depths of the off-season. After the week that’s been, maybe this is the moment we need Patrick Lefevere’s Instagram account most. My colleagues have either already or are in the process of writing thoughtful pieces dedicated to our former work-mates, who are now just mates. I’ve gone with analysing feet pics. Given what Caley, Matt and Dave helped build at CyclingTips, it’s what they would have wanted: Paddy Lefev’s tootsies…
What follows is the outcome of that September morning scrolling through 10 years of Patrick Lefevere’s Instagram. Whether you love him or hate him is irrelevant for the odyssey we are about to embark upon. It is, at its core, an homage to a decade of work, of clocking in, posting, and then clocking out. Day in. Day out.
Will this get me blacklisted from future Quick-Step AlphaVinyl zoom press conferences, or barred from their annual media get together in the January warmth of the Suitopia hotel in Calpe? Will a blacked-out car draw up alongside me next time I’m in Belgium for the Classics, open its sliding door and bundle me in, never to be seen again? That’s just a risk I’ll have to take. It’s not like he can lay me off too (probably).
And at any rate, it’s all meant in good faith. Right, here we go. First up…
It’s the week following the end of the 2013 Tour de France and Patrick is taking a well-earned rest. Relaxing at home he flicks on his wall-mounted television for the final 12km of stage two of the Tour of Poland. He takes his phone out. He opens his camera. He takes the photo. His feet are in it but he doesn’t care. He opens Instagram. “Looking to Tour of Poland,” he types. Post. Done. Patrick Lefevere’s well-kept feet now forever immortalised on the internet.
Exactly a month passes. Time for another telly/toes combo, Lefevere (probably) thinks to himself. Snap. Boom.
Now, you think, surely that’s it. This phase must have passed – two of this particular series is quite enough.
You’d be wrong. As winter approaches we get two socked versions – the same photo posted twice, the repeat receiving more likes than the original as Patrick watches some cyclocross action at Tabor. Does he delete the duplicate after realising his error? That would be madness. Have you led a cycling team to 1,000 victories? Didn’t think so. Maybe save the advice for someone who actually needs it. By November the socks are gone again, and the TV schedule is Moto GP followed by more cyclocross. What better way to spend a Sunday.
Of course, Patrick Lefevere doesn’t always lead an ordinary, in-front-of-the-telly life like the rest of us. There are helicopters, champagne, wine, parties, a rainy stage housing a miserable-looking Eddy Merckx. And then, by April 2014, we also have socked poolside feet.
Skip forward to 2015 and we embark on Lefevere’s Blue Steel era.
Blue steel on a plane.
Blue steel in the backseat.
There’s also a selfie video where Lefevere stares silently into your soul and probes your deepest, darkest secrets. Don’t worry, he won’t tell anyone.
Live Laugh Love
Then we have the quote photos. So many of them. Some accompanied by Daniel Craig’s James Bond in the background. Others with images of lions and wolves in them. It is so alpha it makes me want to go outside right now and punch a wall.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted”, is one of the more heartfelt ones, “Like it but not easy,” reads Lefevere’s caption. “Sometimes I feel like giving up,” another reads, “then I remember I have a lot of motherfuckers to prove wrong”. “I have an addiction it’s called winning” is also a highlight, which I guess is kind of like your Belgian cycling manager equivalent of your ma’s ‘Live Laugh Love’ hanging in your hall. Although, he does eventually flirt with the boundaries of LiveLaughLove culture.
First walk with my new shoes is another banger, Lefevere sporting some fresh Tims in January 2017, while a product activation of the entire Cien men grooming range on behalf of team sponsor Lidl is evidence that there is some space for work alongside all the play.
Of course, a lot of the photos are cycling-related. Photos from inside team cars, with his squad’s stars from various eras in far-flung locations around the world. This one with a very noughties-looking Julian Alaphilippe is a lesson in style (but who is Julian kidding with the soft drink cup? There’s definitely a beer in there.)
There are also some gems from the archive of Lefevere’s own racing days.
The above photo is unmistakably Lefevere, but the below one is even more of a throwback:
Of course, there’s also some of the Patrick Lefevere that has kept the lights on at numerous media outlets over the years. In this instance, he accuses the Tour of California for treating him and Quick-Step like prisoners for serving them Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast.
As we hurtle towards 2019, up pops a photo of an even-younger-looking Remco Evenepoel signing his Quick-Step contract – one that would lead him to friendships with mascots, lucrative endorsements, social media faux pas, and “10 to 15” wees in a stage of the Tour of Norway.
Which brings us nicely to the photo that sparked this article, piqued my interest and led me down this dizzying path to a treasure trove of online content. The scene: a fancy dinner with Evenepoel and Evenepoel Snr. A public show of unity amidst the swirling Ineos rumour mill. No longer is he uploading photos of his telly from a vertical position on his sofa; instead he’s playing 4D chess while the rest of us play checkers.
All that’s left to say is thank you, Patrick. For your dedication to posting, for documenting the highs, lows and occasional banality of life at the top of professional cycling. “The older I get the more I realise it’s okay to live a life others don’t understand,” reads one of the most recent quote photos. I for one couldn’t agree more.