Flooring brand Quick-Step has been one of the big names in cycling since 1999. Despite sharing cycling squads with a raft of other co-sponsors, Quick-Step has been a constant factor and therefore the team is often referred to as simply ‘Quick-Step’. The team also specialises in victory. It’s the one everyone will be watching during the Spring Classics, though Quick-Step riders also know how to score in the more minor races. The only thing they really miss is a rider for general classification victory in the Grand Tours. But with over 70 victories in 2018, nobody’s complaining about that. These are (some of) the team’s most important riders.
Philippe Gilbert is one of the best riders of his generation. The Belgian rider from Wallonia got everyone’s attention at the beginning of his career with good results in races such as the Amstel Gold Race, the Waalse Pijl and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. He also won the Tour of Lombardia and was the best in the Clásica de San Sebastián. In 2017 he showed that he was capable of more and won the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Oh, and he became World Road Cycling Champion in 2012. This guy has won almost every one-day race there is to win, but he simply keeps on going. He is racing just about every classic race in 2019. We will be able to admire his style on TV weekly from the Omloop het Nieuwsblad up to and including Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
In 2018, Elia Viviani switched team from Team Sky to Quick-Step. And that was not a bad move. He showed what he was made of during the Giro d’Italia 2018 by winning no less than four stages, and winning the overall points classification. During the Tour of Spain in the same year, he also won three stages, which meant that he won seven stages in major Grand Tours in a single year. Impressive. He wants even more in 2019: he is riding the Giro, the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. Whether or not he will finish them all remains to be seen.
Julian Alaphilippe is a rider who on paper could do great things is a major stage race. He won the Tour of California in 2016 and he has generally looked good during the Tour de France, only to eventually drop down the general classification and then go on solo attacks. That paid off to a certain extent, by giving him two Tour stage wins. He has also won a stage in the Tour of Spain. However, he is really at his best during one-day races with a decent amount of hills in them. In 2018 he won the Waalse Pijl and the Clásica de San Sebastián. In 2019 we will see him in action in the Tour de France. He is also riding the Tirreno–Adriatico to prepare himself, as well as just about every hilly classic there is.
Remco Evenepoel is one of the biggest potential talents that the cycling world has recently seen. In 2018 he won virtually everything he could win. He won both the junior time trial and the road race at the UCI Road World Championships, despite setbacks. He has made the step to the elite World Tour men’s squad in 2019, and already showed promise in the Vuelta a San Juan. In that race he was an important support rider for his team, as well as ending in 9th place in the general classification. Because he’s only 19 years old, we shouldn’t expect too much of him, however in Belgium he is already been hailed as the next Eddy Merckx, which might put too much pressure on his young shoulders. But at the same time we will not be overly-surprised if he’s suddenly up front with the big guys during a major race.
Perhaps it’s a little chauvinistic to also include Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen in this list—we could have picked a number of other riders from this star-studded team. But during the 2018 season, the sprinter Jakobsen showed he has a lot of talent. It was the first year in which he rode with the top professionals. Straight away he won both the Scheldeprijs and the Nokere Koers (two minor Belgian Classics), and also won stages in the BinckBank Tour and the Tour of Guangxi. This rider is only 22 years old and he is ready to grow into a rider who can really show that he can win bigger races with his sprint. He will still only be entered into minor classic races in 2019, but he certainly has the potential to win them too.
We have mainly concentrated on the up and coming young riders. We have glossed over the fact that Zdenek Stybar, Bob Jungels and Dries Devenyns also ride for Quick-Step. This only goes to show how strong Deceuninck–Quick-Step is again this year. We’re really curious to see if they can beat their phenomenal record from 2018.