2008 is an important year for Quickstep. All sponsorship contracts expire at the end of this year, so the team needs to
perform well and can't afford any scandals. But team manager Patrick Lefevere is confident that his team will continue in
2009: "With this team we will convince possible backers." The team manager is aiming for the classics again and didn't change
much for 2008. Lefevere said: "Never change a winning team."
New signing Stijn Devolder is aiming for the Tour de France and the Olympic Games in Beijing. Devolder told sporza.be:
"The Tour is my main goal. We will prepare that very well." Devolder continued by saying: "I am sure that I can achieve
a good overall result." The Belgian national champion added: "After the Tour, Beijing will follow. I will ride there for sure
and I want to show something."
Devolder came over from Discovery Channel, just like sports director Dirk Demol. Devolder concluded: "That Demol is working
with Quickstep as well now is a good thing. I know him since I was a kid. That's an advantage."
Devolder is one of three new riders. After the retirement of important riders such as Van Petegem, Vasseur and Baguet,
for the 2008 season the team has been reinforced with three new riders. Devolder is one of them and the other two newcomers
are Italian rider Matteo Carrara who has already demonstrated his ability in a few important stage races last season
such as the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Tour de Suisse and young Russian rider Alexander Efimkin, who will be ready
to develop himself after an excellent 2007 season.
These three newcomers will be completing the team’s line up once again lead by World Champion Paolo Bettini and Tom
Boonen and alongside an ever growing group of promising young athletes such as Giovanni Visconti winner of the 2007 Italian
Championships, Wouter Weylandt who won 7 races last year and Kevin Seldrayeers who after his apprentice season last
year seems ready to leave his mark.
Tom Boonen is aiming for the classics again. The 2005 UCI Road World Champion told sporza.be: "My goals are the three biggest
classics: apart from the Tour of Flanders, I am also aiming for Milano-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix." Boonen continued by saying:
"I absolutely want to win San Remo. I was more than one at the Via Roma, so I know I can do it."
"After the spring I will prepare for the Tour, but first there are the Belgian National Championships which I would
like to win," Boonen said. Boonen wants to go for the sprints and wants to defend his green jersey at the Tour.
Boonen hopes the team will continue after 2008: "That we don't have a team [he means a sponsor, editor] for 2009 is something
I think about. We have a very good group and I would like to keep it together. I hope we soon will have certainty."
Paolo Bettini is considering to race all three Grand Tours. Bettini told sporza.be: "I am dreaming of Gold in Beijing and
a third world title at home in Varese." The current UCI Road World Champion continued by saying: "That means I will have
to race the Tour to be in top form [in Beijing, editor]." Bettini added: "The Vuelta belongs to it as well. It
will be very hard but I believe in it." That isn't enough for Bettini: "I would like to start at the Giro as well but
I am not sure about that." Boonen could become competition from his teammate. "In the spring there is the Tour of Flanders.
Its magical and its still missing on my palmares," Bettini said.
Bettini might retire at the end of the season. Asked if he will retire after the upcoming season, Bettini said: "Its not
final but I think that will be the case." Bettini added: "If I will take a decision, I want to make sure its the right one.
I am riding since I was seven years old. Cycling is my life. But my daughter is growing up now and I want to be part of it."
Bettini did not like the anti-doping charter of the UCI but he thinks the biological passport is a good thing: "Its the best
solution you can have to avoid doping."