2 April 2017, Tour of Flanders, Oudenaarde

Winning is... everything. The history of the Wolfpack in 20 stages

January 2003. Patrick Lefevere presents a new team to the media and fans. With 25 riders - including Sven Vanthourenhout, Johan Museeuw, Frank Vandenbroucke, Paolo Bettini, Richard Virenque, and the young, promising Tom Boonen - it didn't take long for Quick-Step - Davitamon to show it meant business. In 20 stages, you get to know the rich history of The Wolfpack.
2002

The prologue: Lefevere and De Cock

The paths of Patrick Lefevere and Frans De Cock crossed for the first time in 1998, when De Cock studied the potential of cycling sponsorship for his company. His preference went to Lefevere's Mapei team because of its international image, its many successes and the presence of Johan Museeuw. After 2000, the paths separate for a few years, but this changes in 2003 with the creation of a new Belgian success team.

2003

The starting signal

Sven Vanthourenhout wins the Kasteelcross in Zonnebeke. It was the first victory for the new Quick-Step - Davitamon cycling team. During the race, Vanthourenhout played yo-yo with Bart Wellens: dropping out on the tricky points, rejoining the others on the more technical sections. I had to go really deep a few times. But as the race went on, I felt myself getting stronger. In the last two laps I even felt confident. I knew that when it came to sprinting, the flowers would be mine. And they were.

Photo: Tijl Capoen | VDB Foto

2003

Aiming for a Super Grand Slam

Patrick Lefevere's brand new Quick-Step team immediately impressed in the Omloop Het Volk. Frank Vandenbroucke, Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini helped pave the way for Johan Museeuw's victory. Patrick Lefevere is over the moon about his team's grand debut: "A triumph? Isn't that too weak a word for what we showed today? You can call it magisterial. A month later Paolo Bettini dominates Milano-Sanremo, afterwards a journalist asks if he is a real champion now: 'Well, if you think I needed this after two victories in Liège-Bastogne-Liège then today I became a campione indeed'.

2004

Olympic gold

Beforehand Paolo Bettini had said that the race for the Olympic gold would be a lottery. In the penultimate of a total of 17 laps, Il Grillo goes off with the Portuguese Sérgio Paulinho, whom he eventually beats in the sprint. After the finish, a very happy Bettini poses for the photographers. In 2004 he also takes the final victory in the World Cup for the second time in a row, the UCI points classification of the time that crowned the most regular rider in the ten big one-day races.

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2005

A year of abundance

2005 was a fantastic year for the Quick-Step formation. Tommeke - What are you doing now? - Boonen won the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the world title. Patrick proudly summarised the year as follows: 'Calling this year a good year is putting it mildly. Allow me not to be modest. We are the best team in the world.'

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

listen to the remix
2006

In honor of Sauro

A very emotional Paolo Bettini triumphed at the Tour of Lombardy in Como. La corsa delle foglie morte (“The Race of the Falling Leaves”), seldom was this nickname so appropriate, but also so very heartbreaking. Paolo’s brother, Sauro, had been killed in a traffic accident a week earlier. On the way, he briefly considered quitting, but he carried on competing. And he took first place. Head and index fingers stabbing the heavens, towards Sauro. ‘I wasn’t riding alone today. The man who always cheered me on at the roadside can no longer do so. But he was with me today.’

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2007

Il Grillo's revenge

The tension reached its peak in the final straight of the World Championships in Stuttgart (2007). Five were left after a particularly nerve-racking competition: the slow sprinters Fränk Schleck and Cadel Evans, Russia's Alexander Kolobnev, local rider and fast cyclist Stefan Schumacher and Italy's Paolo Bettini. Avoiding the organisers' bid to get him banned from the World Championships, and accused one week earlier by the German television station ZDF of supplying drugs to the suspended Patrik Sinkewitz, Bettini managed to settle the score in the last few metres, leaving Kolobnev and a clearly shocked Schumacher far behind him. Relive the ecstatic feelings of the Italian RAI commentators.

2008

The downside of the medal

A burnt child fears the fire, as the saying goes. That might be a lot more challenging for an idol whose pedestal is raised so high that his feet finally end up leaving the ground. Cocaine? Impossible! And yet. On two occasions, in May 2008 and almost to the day a year later, Tom Boonen tested positive for cocaine during a doping test. Bans, suspension, suspended sentence in a court of law and a few other sensational episodes, ... The Boonen story seemed to have drawn to a close. How the mighty are fallen! The story was already being written. We now know - see for example the Flanders-Roubaix double in 2012 - that that version of his fate ended up in the wastepaper basket. And Boonen himself? 'Cocaine created a lot of misery!’

Photo: De Gelderlander, 11/06/2008

2009

Crashing during a race, getting your life back together

‘I spent 10 years of my life as a pro cyclist. I'm currently working for Colruyt Merelbeke. It's not something you read every day in the LinkedIn About section. And still, that's what it says on the page where Kurt Hovelijnck now seeks to position himself in the labour market. Thanks to Jong Vlaanderen and Chocolade Jacques, he managed to get himself into the spotlight at Quick-Step, joining the team in 2009. But, early as 17 March of that same year, disaster struck. He took a nasty tumble during a training session, resulting in a coma, a lengthy stay in an intensive care unit … ‘When the doctors said they thought I'd never come out of the coma again, I realised how lucky I was.’ Hovelijnck also fought his way back. He returned to racing in 2010, even competing in the Tour of Flanders two years later but, once again, things went awry. A bad fall in the Tour Poitou-Charentes forced him to stop competing at the end of 2013.

Photo: De Morgen, 02/02/2011

2010

Making dreams come true

Great heights are followed by troughs and valleys. It is an inexorable law of nature and sport. This applies to the Wolfpack as well. And so does that other iron law: there is no such thing as a free lunch and champions are only hungry for more victories. In 2009, the team still suffered serious sports and financial hardships afterwards. Not only did they drop to 18th place in the UCI rankings, while several riders exited the team, the harsh and cold question was whether it was not the end of the road altogether. Enter, in late 2010, Zdenek Bakala. Together with Bessel Kok (10%), the Czech businessman (70%) became the team's owner. It was much more than a mere financial lifebelt. Bakala was, first of all, a racing enthusiast and, secondly and most importantly, he combined big dreams with a bold plan for the future right from the very start.

2011

Annus horribilis

With only 8 victories, 2011 is the absolute annus horribilis of Quick-Step. Tom Boonen triumphs in Gent-Wevelgem, while Marc de Maar and Sylvain Chavanel dominate their national championships. In addition to a few smaller races, Iljo Keissen and Niki Terpstra give the team a few more wins on the track. In the winter of 2011 Zdenek Bakala increases the budget and some former HTC-High Road riders, including Tony Martin, enter the team. Will this turn the tide?

2012

'Vincere Insieme’ squared

'For me personally, this is a victory that is worth more than the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix'. Says an exceptionally emotional Patrick Lefevere in Valkenburg in 2012. His six strongest racers Boonen, Chavanel, Martin, Terpstra, Vandewalle and Peter Velits win the first World Team Time Trial Championship with brand teams, and Quick-Step does it again in 2013, 2016 and 2018. Ask Lefevere about his greatest victories and he will often come up with these team time trial world titles. Not surprisingly, because it is the ultimate incarnation of the Vincere Insieme adage.

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2013

QS is back

2013 was a great year for the team. Omega Pharma-Quick-Step scored 63 victories, to become the most successful team of the season, despite the fact that Tom Boonen missed most of it due to injuries. Mark Cavendish, euphoric after his second stage victory, scored 20 wins, including five stages and the Giro d’Italia points classification.

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2014

Big ambitions

When the Colombian rider Rigoberto Urán joined the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step squad in 2014 he soon demonstrated his talent in the Giro. Urán won the time trial from Barbaresco to Barolo to become the first Colombian in history to don the pink jersey. He ended up leading for 3 stages and came 2nd in the final ranking in Milan. This made him the first OPQS rider to finish on a grand tour podium.

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2015

From hell...

No, 2015 is not exactly the season Tom Boonen looks back on most fondly today. If it were a shelf in a race library, there would be two hideous bookends on the left and right, with precious little fun to read in between. At the start of the season, a fall in Paris-Nice wipes out all the spring classics, then there is no more than a handful of stages in smaller tours, and in October a fall in the Tour of Abu Dhabi leads to a fractured skull and permanent hearing damage. The doctors fear a six-month break, but a few weeks later Boonen already starts the preparation for the new season.

Photo: Het Laatste Nieuws, 10/10/2015

2016

... to Hell

Tom Boonen's focus is on an historic fifth victory in Paris-Roubaix. Saying it is one thing, doing it after such a heavy fall is another. But the miracle seems to be taking place. Because a sprint against Mathew Hayman, Tornado Tom wins 99 times out of 100. Only, this sprint is that one other time. The Christian-inspired newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen uses the swear word 'GodverTomme' in its sports section. Boonen himself is more philosophical: 'If you ride to win, you can also lose'.

Photo: Iggy | Wikimedia Commons

2017

Fast Phil

After lean pickings with BMC in the previous year, Philippe Gilbert switched over to Quick-Step Floors in the winter of 2016. Questions were initially raised about Fast Phil’s move, but he managed to surprise both friend and foe with victories in the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race. Two years later, Gilbert made history when he also succeeded in winning Paris-Roubaix for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, adding four of the five Monuments to his belt. The tassel in Milan-San Remo is the only prize to elude him in the end. He never came any closer than two third places in 2008 and 2011.

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2018

73 in 2018

73! That's how many UCI victories Quick-Step Floors achieved in 2018. An absolute milestone in the team's history. Moreover, they win the World Tour Team classification and the Quick-Step cyclists are on the podium no less than 152 times. Enric Mas scores in the Vuelta! The young Spaniard also took second place in the final ranking, 1’46” behind winner Simon Yates. A feat he would effortlessly repeat in 2021, but by then Mas was in his second season with a different team. Although Deceuninck-Quick-Step is still close to his heart, as underscored by this tweet on his move to Movistar in 2019: ‘Thank you @PatLefevere for everything.’

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2019

The year of the wolf

'Wolves never hunt alone, it’s their pack that makes them invincible'

2019 was the year Julian Alaphilippe enjoyed his first finest hours. First he took Milan-San Remo as his first Monument and then went on to triumph in the Strade Bianche and La Flèche Wallone. But his most memorable experiences were during the 106th Tour de France. When he took two stages, and wore the yellow jersey for a total of fourteen days, causing the excited French public and the team to start dreaming of more to come. His claim to an overall win in La Grande Boucle, however, had to be put on hold two days before Paris … At the end of the season, he was awarded the Vélo d’Or, which is quite a consolation prize.

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

2020

Fabio fights back

The facts, the scenery and the main characters are known, the images are burned on the retina: 5 August 2020, Tour of Poland, first stage, the elbow of that other Dutch rider, the crash barriers, the hospital, the artificial coma ... "He'll never dare to start a bunch sprint again, if he ever rides a race at all ..." That's the tenor on the editorial boards and at the Flemish cycling pubs. 249 rock-hard rehabilitation days later Fabio makes his return at the Tour of Turkey on 11 April 2021. And what a return! With an extended contract in his pocket, he first wins two stages in the Tour of Wallonia and then three stages and the points classification in the Vuelta. When looking back, Fabio says: 'Who would have thought that last year? Then I was still without teeth, now I am part of the team again. I am very proud of that. It motivates me enormously.'

Photo: Peter Edmondson

2021

Flanders 2021 - Leuven

So this is what a Flemish popular celebration looks like, even if not everyone in the crowded streets of Leuven is an example of fair play. Julian Alaphilippe rode to his second world title in a row in this unique setting, after an incredibly exciting race amidst a fantastically noisy atmosphere. Which became even louder once Loulou appeared on Ladeuzeplein, driving the cycling fans crazy and acting like an accomplished master of ceremonies. Conclusion and summary by Alaphilippe himself: ‘Magical, this was a real race. In the country of the bicycle.’

Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images

Start

2002

The prologue: Lefevere and De Cock

2003
BVT0852

The starting signal

2003

Aiming for a Super Grand Slam

2004
14 August 2004, Olympic Road Race in Athens

Olympic gold

2005
25 September 2005, Road World Championships in Madrid

A year of abundance

2006
14 October 2006, Tour of Lombardy, Como

In honor of Sauro

2007

Il Grillo's revenge

2008
Boonen Kook 11062008 01

The downside of the medal

2009
Kurt Hovelijnck 01

Crashing during a race, getting your life back together

2010

Making dreams come true

2011

Annus horribilis

2012
761fdcfd 8c2f 2b2c 5a68 78558356d2df

'Vincere Insieme’ squared

2013
12 July 2013, 13th Tour de France stage, Saint-Amand-Montrond

QS is back

2014
23 May 2014, 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia, Rivarolo Canavese

Big ambitions

2015
Boonen HLN 10102015 01

From hell...

2016
Paris Roubaix2016 Iggy

... to Hell

2017
2 April 2017, Tour of Flanders, Oudenaarde

Fast Phil

2018
15 September 2018, 20th stage of the Vuelta, Collada de la Gallina (Santuario de Canolich), Andorra

73 in 2018

2019
21 July 2019, 15th stage of the Tour de France, Foix

The year of the wolf

2020
Aankomst Jakobsen Vuelta Peter Edmondson

Fabio fights back

2021
26 September 2021, Road World Championships, Leuven

Flanders 2021 - Leuven

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