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20 years of Quick-Step in the Grand Tours. When blue turns into yellow, pink or red

6min reading time   by Matthias Van Milders on 02 May 2022
"We will do everything we can to win the Tour de France with a Belgian in the coming six years." That's what Patrick Lefevere says in 2021 when Quick-Step signs on as a sponsor for that period. So the dream of winning a Grand Tour is alive. So far, Quick-Step Cycling Team has not managed to do so. But that doesn't mean at all that Lefevere's riders paddle along in the Grand Tours like wimps. That's what a look back at eight memorable moments in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta shows.

Virenque flutters to yellow in Quick-Step's first Tour

Before the start of the 100th Tour, Richard Virenque declares that he dreams of winning the stage to Alpe d'Huez in the yellow jersey. However, he takes his stage win the day before, in the stage from Lyon to Morzine. He thus conquers not only the polka dot jersey, but also the yellow jersey. In the heat and amidst thousands of fans, Virenque rides with the jersey unzipped to Quick-Step's first Tour victory. The second rider in the stage, Rolf Aldag, finishes 2:29 later. Virenque only wears the yellow jersey for one day, but the French public expects something different from their chouchou. Richard Virenque can win his sixth polka dot jersey and thus keep up with Federico Bahamontes and Lucien Van Impe. Virenque succeeds and reaches Paris in the polka dots.

Third time's a charm for Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen can win Tour stages. He proved that by winning two stages in 2004 (Champs-Élysées!) and 2005. But can he also return to Balen with a green jersey? Twice, in 2005 and 2006, Boonen is forced to abandon a winning position due to physical problems. But in the 2007 Tour, he's a winner. Afterwards Boonen looks back on those three weeks as the most enjoyable racedays of his career. Quick-Step - Innergetic runs like a well-oiled machine. So good in fact, that in the second stage to Ghent not Tom Boonen, but his lead-out Gert Steegmans takes the flowers. The sprint leader himself shows his top form with two stage wins. Three weeks of fighting for the points is rewarded with green in Paris. For the blue guard, it is the apotheosis of a great Tour, with a stage for Cédric Vasseur as well.

First Belgian to win the youth classification is Kevin Seeldraeyers

Kevin Seeldraeyers is 22 years old when he makes his Giro debut. He wants to find out how far he can go in the general classification. The day before the second rest day, Seelie takes the white jersey. In the subsequent short mountain stage to Blockhaus he bends, but does not crack. In the following stages too - including an arrival on Vesuvius - Seeldraeyers keeps his jersey. In Rome he ends the Giro in white and with a fourteenth place in the final classification. Since the introduction of the youth classification in the Giro, he is the first Belgian winner. Afterwards, a number of riders are removed from the final results, Seeldraeyers eventually ends up in tenth place in the official ranking.

Strong Quick-Step block helps Rigoberto Urán to second place

The ambitions for the 2014 Giro are clear in advance: Omega Pharma - Quick-Step wants to get on the podium and Rigoberto Urán is the man for the job. The Colombian will start the time trial in second place in the general classification. During the twelfth stage from Barbaresco to Barolo, Urán has no eyes for the vineyards of Piedmont. With 1'17" on the second he not only wins the time trial, he also becomes the new leader. In total four Quick-Step riders finish in the top 8: the team is ready for what follows. After four days in the pink, Urán has to hand over the leader's position to his compatriot Quintana, although there is some discussion whether the descent of the Stelvio was neutralised or not. But the result is maintained and Rigoberto Urán becomes second in the general classification. He keeps that place until Trieste where the Giro ends and with that Rigoberto Urán is very satisfied.

Three times top-10 in a Grand Tour in 2016

With a sixth place in the Giro for Bob Jungels and a ninth for Daniel Martin in the Tour, Etixx - Quick-Step scored well in the first two Grand Tours of 2016. Will the Vuelta also be a success? With two stage victories for Gianni Meersman in the first week, the Tour of Spain is off to a good start. In the ninth stage it is the turn of David de la Cruz. On the final climb he shakes off his last fellow fighter - his future team mate Dries Devenyns. Not only the stage, but also the red leader's jersey is for the Catalan. On the podium he meets Gianni Meersman, the leader in the points classification. After the next stage both riders will wear the blue Quick-Step jersey again. But with another stage win for Gianluca Brambilla and de la Cruz's seventh place in the final standings added to that, the Vuelta is also a great success.

Enric Mas puts the crowning glory in the final mountain stage

Two men give Quick-Step Floors' Vuelta extra colour in 2018. Elia Viviani notched up three stage victories. Enric Mas struggled through illness and fever and climbed from twelfth place in the second week to a second spot on the final podium. The young Spaniard underlines that unexpected podium finish by winning the penultimate stage. The stage is short - less than 100 kilometres - but very tough, with six climbs. On the final climb - the Coll de la Gallina in Andorra - Mas leaves the other GC riders behind. It is already the thirteenth stage in a Grand Tour for Quick-Step that year.

Julian Alaphilippe makes the French dream

With two stages and the polka dot jersey, the 2018 Tour was already in good shape for Julian Alaphilippe. One year on, the Frenchman is adding to that. The first arrival on French soil - the Tour starts in Brussels that year - inspires Alaphilippe to a tour de force. In Épernay he soloes to a stage win and the yellow jersey after a hilly final. Ten stages later, the individual time trial in Pau is on the programme. Amidst dense crowds of enthusiastic supporters, Alaphilippe also wins that stage. Thanks to his stage victory he strengthens his leading position. In the end Alaphilippe's Tour counts fourteen yellow days, much more than he had dared dream. He only loses his jersey two days before the end. In Paris Julian Alaphilippe finishes fifth after a miraculous Tour.

The improbable strong comeback

26 June 2021 is a great day for Quick-Step. Julian Alaphilippe wins the first stage of the Tour and of course becomes the first geletruidrager. But his victory in Landerneau is also the 100th stage victory in a Grand Tour for the team. The party at the 2021 Tour is far from over for Deceuninck - Quick-Step. The main protagonist on duty is Mark Cavendish. Only added to the team just before the start of the Tour, Cav won stage four and took over the green jersey from teammate Alaphilippe. His previous stage victory dates back five years, so the victory in Fougères was not written in the stars. But look, Cavendish seems reborn. He has three more podiums to go as a stage winner. And what's more: he will never give away his green jersey again. The Tour of 2021 is therefore a grand cru classé for Quick-Step.

Grand Tour (cycling)

In road bicycle racing, a Grand Tour is one of the three major European professional cycling stage races: Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España. Collectively they are termed the Grand Tours, and all three races are similar in format being three week races with daily stages. They have a special status in the UCI regulations: more points for the UCI World Tour are distributed in Grand Tours than in other races, and they are the only stage races allowed to last longer than 14 days.The Giro d'Italia is generally run in May, the Tour de France in July, and the Vuelta a España in late August and September. The Vuelta was originally held in the spring, usually late April, with a few editions held in June in the 1940s. In 1995, however, the race moved to September to avoid direct competition with the Giro d'Italia. The Tour de France is the oldest and most prestigious in terms of points accrued to racers of all three, and is the most widely attended annual sporting event in the world. The Tour, the Giro and the Road World Cycling Championship make up the Triple Crown of Cycling. The three Grand Tours are men's events, and no three week races exist on the women's road cycling circuit. The Giro Rosa, the ten stage Italian road race for women is the only race on the current women's circuit treated as broadly equivalent to a Grand Tour, although the Tour de France Femmes will be held from 2022.

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