Despite not getting out of the race with the haul it had wanted, Etixx – Quick-Step still remained the most successful team of the season.
Of the 22 squads which lined up in Mont-Saint-Michel, on July 2nd, for the start of the 103rd Tour de France, just 12 left the race with at least a win in the bag, and even fewer managed the difficult feat of going also for the general classification and placing a rider in the top 10. Etixx – Quick-Step was one of these outfits – taking a victory, coming on the podium on the flat and in the mountain stages and bringing the race to life with its spirited attacks and breakaways – thus creating moments and reinforcing its position as one of the peloton's most complete and spectacular teams, as well as cementing its place at the top of the most victories standings, with 38 successes thus far.
Looking behind at the three weeks of the Tour de France, Etixx – Quick-Step's CEO Patrick Lefevere made an analysis of the highs and lows the race brought in term of results: "Marcel Kittel's victory was our best moment. By taking that sprint on the uphill drag in Limoges, he showed more versatility than many thought he possesses. It was our fifth Grand Tour win of the year, a feat not many teams have managed this season. On the other hand, I must admit I'm sad, because we should have won three stages, but instead we came on the podium a few times, because not everything clicked in the sprints like in the Giro d'Italia; at the same time, we were struck by bad luck, which we couldn't get rid off not even in Paris, where Marcel had to change this bike twice on the closing circuit."
The Tour de France was also an excellent opportunity for cycling fans to discover Julian Alaphilippe, the 24-year-old Grand Tour debutant, who was all the attributes necessary to become one of the sports' biggest stars: "Julian Alaphilippe came close to taking a stage in more than one occasion, but he too had misfortune while being in the right break. Despite not scoring a win, Julian still had a strong Tour de France and he showed how aggressive, charismatic and funny he is, and that made him very popular", said Patrick Lefevere, who had words of praise also for Dan Martin, the first Irishman in more than two decades to finish in the top 10: "We were happy with Dan Martin's performance: he didn't crash, remained focused all the time, had strong legs and showed a significant improvement on the big climbs. By coming ninth, he got a very good result, which bodes really well for the future."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele