The Belgian boss has seen his team have another successful campaign in 2022 but they and everyone else have been eclipsed by the Dutch squad, who top the UCI rankings having racked up 38 victories, one of which was the Tour de France and several of which were won in team 1-2s.
Jumbo-Visma’s latest exploit came with victory on the opening day of the Vuelta on Friday. QuickStep were edged out for second place by Ineos Grenadiers by a fraction of a second, but Jumbo were some 14 seconds out front.
“They come from another planet,” Lefevere said, according to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab).
“When I see how our boys took the corners, I wonder how the Jumbo riders did that. With a car you would say: ‘on two wheels’.”
Lefevere also writes a Saturday column for Het Nieuwsblad, and he returned to the topic there.
“I am not surprised by Jumbo-Visma’s victory in itself, but by their lead,” he explained. “Fourteen seconds is a lot over 23 kilometers.”
Still, it was not like Lefevere felt his team had delivered a perfect performance. For starters, their squad, which contains a number of climbing domestiques for Remco Evenepoel, has less obvious time trialling power than Jumbo-Visma, while he also highlighted a mistake from the world champion.
“We have to be satisfied with third place, after a time trial that was almost perfect. Along the way we made one real mistake’ Julian Alaphilippe peeled off the wrong side of the train once, against the instructions,” Lefevere said.
“In any case, we finish in our place, with a squad that is certainly not specifically composed for the team time trial. We opted for some more climbing profiles and not, for example, Josef Cerny, with whom you have extra horsepower in the time trial.”
While Lefevere’s comments were not necessarily accusatory, they may raise eyebrows, given cycling’s history and the connotations of otherworldliness, as was the case when Elisa Longo Borghini referred to Annemiek van Vleuten as an ‘alien’ a few years ago.
Jumbo-Visma’s dominant performance at the Tour de France led to questions about doping, which have routinely been asked of all winning riders and teams since the scandals of recent history.
While Wout van Aert described the inquiry as “such a shit question”, Jonas Vingegaard insisted: “We are totally clean, every one of us, and I can say that to every one of you. Not one of us is taking anything illegal.
“I think why we are so good is because of the preparation we do. We take altitude camps to the next level, and everything: materials, food and training. I think the team is really the best in this. That’s why you have to trust us.”