Brian Holm: “We are not the little white ponies!”
Sports Director Brian Holm on the DNA of Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team, the Wolfpack and the godfather of the team, Patrick Lefevere.
Is professional cycling an individualistic sport? You bet! You need that individualistic fighter instinct to pace you through a 200km training ride in pouring rain and the day you stop dreaming about winning cycling races, you better quit. When that is said, you don't win without a team and a good team makes it a whole lot easier to win.
When we are on the start line, we stand as a team, united to fight for the victory, and when one of our guys wins, we win as a team – riders and staff alike. That is what some call team spirit, and at this team we gave it a name, The Wolfpack.
The DNA of Quick-Step Team
I have spent all my life in cycling and know by experience that team spirit is something that exists to a greater or lesser extent from team to team. On Quick-Step it is part of the DNA. I can say this as someone who used to perceive it from the outside and even back then knew something was special.
Before I came, I noticed that Patrick Lefevere had the same staff for ages and that he took care of them, like the old godfather, the patriarch, watching over his people. Today, it is the same, he is still the one and only boss and most of the staff in the organization have been here since 10-15, even 20 years ago, fostering a strong team spirit among the personnel, which was eventually passed to the riders.
It is like an old marriage, we have our conflicts and discussions, but we stick together, always! We know each other for better and worse after so many years.
The team's history, traditions and virtues, it all roots in Lefevere, who started everything back in the '90s. Call me biased but I genuinely believe that the way Patrick runs the team makes the fundament of the unique team spirit of #TheWolfpack, where everybody is willing to go the extra mile.
The team's ability to change skin over the years to remain competitive is another unique trait
The core is the team spirit but this core is supported by investing a lot of resources in development to give the riders and staff the best environment and materials, enabling them to perform on the highest level every day.
Of course, the riders ride for and help each other in the races – that is, after all, what they get their salary for – but the team spirit shines through just as often off the bike, in the evening when they arrive to and leave dinner together, when they talk with each other before and after a race, go for coffee rides the day before and so on.
Winning is an attitude with this team
It is no secret that winning makes everything a whole lot easier. But how we keep doing it, if it is thanks to Patrick's incommensurable winning mentality or what it is, is difficult to say. But take a rider like Gilbert, he has won more than entire cycling teams have altogether, yet his feet are still firmly on the ground and he races with a desire of winning like only few young riders do. That never-give-up, winning mentality runs so deep through his veins, motivating everybody down the ranks. Patrick's eye for signing this kind of riders, time after time, is unique, probably because he has the same DNA.
It is as they say, practice makes perfect – the more you do it, the better you get at it. On this team, winning is an attitude. We are expected to win and that is what we fight for in every race we do. There are no races too small to be won!
And we are not afraid of giving the young riders a chance to go for the glory or change the leader of the team from race to race. Everybody knows they will get their chance. Those small things also help to create a solid team spirit in the group. If you work hard for your teammate one day, you know he will pay you back a thousand times another day, no matter if your surname is Gilbert, Terpstra, or Hodeg.
Not little white ponies
The nickname of the Wolfpack thus came naturally and has been something we have referred to internally for a few years now. We stand up for each other, race and win together. And as a Belgian team, we are defined by crosswinds, cobblestones, bad weather and aggressive riding. The little white ponies just don't sound right, does it? No, The Wolfpack hits spot – that is what we are.
And when you are part of the Wolfpack you harden up, you believe in the work you are doing. It is a nickname that gives you hair on the chest and makes you pull off the gloves when the temperatures drop below zero. With the Wolfpack spirit, we pace ourselves and make sure not to go through the first part of the season without a victory. When the Wolfpack is on the start line, it is for winning and if we don't win, we will be extra motivated to dig deeper in training and race faster in the upcoming events. If we win, we will be hungry for more.
So, the Wolfpack is a lot of things. It is about team spirit and traditions, it is about pride and winning mentality. If you appreciate what I mean, it is probably because you belong to the Wolfpack as well!
Photo credit: ©Sigfrid Eggers
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