Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Several of his established riders are out of contract at the end of the season with Yves Lampaert (30), Dries Devenyns (38), Iljo Keisse (39), Stijn Steels (32), and Zdeněk Štybar (36) among those on the roster without deals for 2023.
It’s an old team, and it’s likely that Keisse will retire, while there is talk of Štybar moving into a hybrid role that would combine cyclocross, road, and gravel races.
- Quick-Step winning in the wrong places this spring
- Lefevere: I’ve heard the excuses, riders are racing for their contracts now
While illness can be tracked as a major factor in the team’s classics decline this year, it’s also fair to argue that the Belgian squad has invested heavily in and around Remco Evenepoel and Julian Alaphilippe, while their current contingent of cobbles specialists has aged together.
With Soudal coming on board as a co-sponsor next year there is the possibility that Lefevere could make significant upgrades to his team, and we’ve highlighted 11 potential classics riders who could improve the current lineup.
Current team: Trek-Segafredo
Would he fit? Pedersen would make any team better but after a somewhat quiet spell on the cobbles, it’s hard to read his current market value. He’s won major races before, he’s relatively young, and his form has been superb outside of the major monuments. The Dane, however, does appear to be settled on his current team, and Trek-Segafredo would be reluctant to let a rider they have developed walk out the door. Budget would also be an issue with this one.
Current team: Trek-Segafredo
Would he fit? Of course, he would. Lefevere managed to create enough space for Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert, and Niki Terpstra in his team, so he can make Asgreen and Stuyven work together, too. Again though, it’s a question of budget, and an unwillingness from Trek-Segafredo to allow such a prized and respected asset move to a key rival. There’s also an obvious rapport between Stuyven and Pedersen that wouldn’t be easy to replace on the American team.
Søren Kragh Andersen
Current team: Team DSM
Would he fit? It’s hard to pigeonhole the Danish rider because on the one hand he looks like he should be an out-and-out one-day specialist, yet his greatest successes so far have come at the Tour de France, where he won two stages in 2020. He’s also won stages in Oman, Paris-Nice, and the Tour de Suisse thanks to his punchy finish and ability to see off his rivals from a small group but there’s also a Paris-Tours title in the bank, and some consistent results in the classics. He was arguably the strongest rider in Milan-San Remo this spring too.
There will be undoubted attention coming Kragh Andersen’s way, and as ever, it’s impossible to read how Team DSM will react. The team has a patchy track record when it comes to retaining talent.
As for Lefevere, he could certainly do with lowering the age of his classics roster. Kragh Andersen isn’t your typical Quick-Step rider but the current DSM leader would undoubtedly improve the Belgian team on a number of fronts.
Dylan van Baarle
Current team: Ineos Grenadiers
Would he fit? Even before his Paris-Roubaix win last weekend, Van Baarle would have walked into any WorldTour squad, such is his versatility and consistency. The reality, however, is that the weekend monument will push the Dutchman outside of Lefevere’s transfer budget, and with Jumbo-Visma already linked to the rider it looks like a financial battle Lefevere cannot win. For what it’s worth, Van Baarle is also a very close friend of Fabio Jakobsen but that’s not how major transfers tend to work. More importantly, however, they do share the same agent.
“He’s a top rider and he’s always there when he has to be there,” Lefevere told VeloNews the evening of Van Baarle’s Paris-Roubaix win. “But I think you know now that I’m no longer interested,” he added, hinting at the increased price the Dutch rider will now command in the market.
Current team: Ag2r Citroën
Would he fit? This is a risk. Jungels has virtually no results to speak of in almost 18 months, and his surgery at the end of 2021 hasn’t all of a sudden sparked successful recovery. At 29, he’s certainly not passed it, but there are questions over where this current season is going for the former Quick-Step rider. His best result this year? 23rd overall in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Conversely, though, this could be the best time for a team boss to take a chance and sign Jungels on the cheap. Unless he burned all his bridges when leaving the team in 2020, the Luxembourg rider would probably jump at the chance of signing for Lefevere’s team, and while he’s never hugely excelled in Flanders or Roubaix, he has won Kuurne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and tallied up a few decent results in grand tours. If Lefevere can rescue Mark Cavendish’s career, then he can certainly do it with Jungels.
Current team: Jumbo-Visma
Would he fit? If Jumbo-Visma sign Van Baarle they might have to let someone leave and that could be Teunissen, who was consistent but not electric during the spring. A dependable team player, who on his day can be incredible, Teunissen might feel as though it’s time to move on after four years at Jumbo. Signing Teunissen might also mean losing a rider like Lampaert, but that could be a gamble Lefevere believes is worth it.
Current team: Lotto-Soudal
Would he fit? Under normal circumstances, this one would be pushed towards the ‘no way’ pile, but hear me out.
Lotto-Soudal is a stagnant team and Wellens has been there far too long. He has very little to show for himself on the cobbles in terms of results, and there’s perhaps too much overlap with Alaphilippe and Evenepoel, but the Belgian veteran is versatile, and at 30 he might decide that he’s had enough at an underperforming squad that might not even be in the WorldTour next season and decide to jump ship. There is a question over whether Lefevere is a fan of the Lotto rider, however.
Current team: Team DSM
Would he fit? Pedersen probably wouldn’t have made this list had he not gone on the attack mid-way through Paris-Roubaix but there’s certainly an untapped engine inside the 26-year-old. He was second in the junior Paris-Roubaix back in 2014, and he won the European U23 road championships a couple of years later. He won Paris-Tours in 2022 too, so there’s clearly no issue with his ability to race over long distances, so the key question is whether Lefevere believes he can remodel the Dane to suit the team’s needs. There probably wouldn’t be any issues over budget with this one either. He’s a solid rider.
Current team: TotalEnergies
Would he fit? He won’t win another monument but that’s not why Lefevere would sign him. Terpstra has a hunger and grit to him that can’t be taught and he’s exactly the sort of rider you want on your side when things aren’t going your way.
Will he be the rider to solo clear with 60km to go and win? No. But he will ride over your nearest rival’s sunglasses without hesitation. Absolutely. Sign him up.
Current team: UAE Team Emirates
Would he fit? Another former Lefevere rider, Tretin won Le Samyn at the start of March but after abandoning Paris-Nice a few weeks later, never got going again in the spring classics. His two years at UAE Team Emirate are up at the end of the season and it’s unclear where the Italian goes next. It’s certainly not impossible to imagine that he re-signs where he is but he would add extra steel and experience to Lefevere’s squad, even if the win rate has slowed in recent years.
Current team: Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert-Matériaux
Would he fit? Devriendt rode for the Quick-Step feeder team and according to the Belgian media it was Lefevere who helped the rider onto Wanty a few years ago. At 30, he’s no spring chicken, and while results have been thin on the ground a fourth-place in Paris-Roubaix certainly drew attention and potential admirers. Devriendt could slot into a domestique role easily enough at Quick-Step and would still lower the average age of the classics core at the same time.