QuickStep AlphaVinyl boss Patrick Lefevere has described Jumbo-Visma as “from another planet” after winning the inaugural team time trial at the Vuelta a España.
The Belgian boss has seen his team have another successful season in 2022 but they and everyone else have been eclipsed by the Dutch side, who top the UCI rankings with 38 wins, one of which was the Tour de France and several of these won in team 1-2s.
Jumbo-Visma’s most recent success was winning the opening day of the Vuelta on Friday. QuickStep was edged into second place by a split second by Ineos Grenadiers, but Jumbo was about 14 seconds ahead.
“They come from another planet,” Lefevere said, according to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab).
“When I see how our guys took the corners, I wonder how the jumbo drivers did it. In the case of a car, one would say: ‘on two wheels’.”
Lefevere also writes a Saturday column for Het Nieuwsblad and has returned to the subject there.
“I’m not surprised by Jumbo-Visma’s win per se, but by their lead,” he said. “Fourteen seconds is much more than 23 kilometers.”
Still, it wasn’t as if Lefevere felt his team had put in a perfect performance. For starters, their squad, which includes a number of domestiques for Remco Evenepoel, has less obvious time trial power than Jumbo-Visma, while also highlighting a mistake by the world champion.
“We have to be satisfied with third place after an almost perfect time trial. We made a real mistake on the way there. Julian Alaphilippe jumped from the wrong side of the train against the instructions,” said Lefevere.
“We definitely end up in our spot, with a squad that’s certainly not put together specifically for the team time trial. We opted for a few climbing profiles and not, for example, for Josef Cerny, with whom you have extra horsepower in your luggage time trial.”
While Lefevere’s comments weren’t necessarily accusatory, they might raise eyebrows given the history of cycling and the connotations of otherworldliness, as was the case when Elisa Longo Borghini called Annemiek van Vleuten an “alien” a few years ago.
Jumbo-Visma’s dominant performance at the Tour de France prompted doping questions that have been routinely asked of all winning riders and teams since the scandals of recent history.
While Wout van Aert called the investigation “such a shitty question”, Jonas Vingegaard stressed: “We are absolutely clean, every one of us, and I can tell every one of you. None of us take anything illegal.
“I think why we’re so good is because of the preparation we’re doing. We’re taking high-altitude camps to the next level and everything: materials, food, and training. I think the team is really the best in this field. That’s why you have to do it, trust us.”