Remco Evenepoel had solely simply set out on his lengthy, doleful journey residence from the Giro d’Italia when the dialog already started to show in the direction of the prospects of his participation on the Tour de France. No less than one Belgian website was already operating a reader ballot on the subject.
The world champion opted to focus on the Giro over the Tour final winter expressly due to the heftier period of time trialling within the corsa rosa. His Tour debut, Evenepoel’s Soudal-QuickStep staff insisted again then, would wait till 2024.
It stays to be seen if that stance will change after Evenepoel was compelled to desert his major goal of 2023 following his constructive take a look at for COVID-19 on Sunday night. Regardless of that coronavirus an infection, in any case, Evenepoel had regained the maglia rosa within the stage 9 time trial to Cesena, and he can have left Italy with a profound sense of unfinished enterprise.
It appears possible – although it’s removed from sure at this level – that Evenepoel will now flip his consideration to one of many remaining Grand Excursions on the calendar, however Soudal-QuickStep supervisor Patrick Lefevere was understandably reluctant to interact with the thought till his rider recovers from his sickness.
“I’m not going to speak to you now concerning the Tour or the Vuelta,” Lefevere stated, in response to La Dernière Heure. “As soon as he has recovered and as soon as he has digested his disappointment, we’ll sit down round a desk and draw up a programme.”
Evenepoel’s preliminary post-Giro plans had been targeted round getting ready for the defence of his world street title in Glasgow in August, and Belgian nationwide coach Sven Vanthourenhout confirmed final week that he would additionally line up within the particular person time trial.
The Glasgow Worlds would nonetheless match comparatively neatly with both a return to the Vuelta or an sooner than anticipated Tour debut. These near the 23-year-old, nevertheless, have famous his agency desire for meticulously deliberate, long-term initiatives – like his gradual strategy to final yr’s Vuelta a España – and so he will not be enamoured on the concept of going to the Tour at such brief discover. A yr in the past, for example, Evenepoel by no means critically entertained the thought of being parachuted into the Tour staff to exchange the injured Julian Alaphilippe.
Alternatively, driving his maiden Tour in these circumstances and on a seemingly ill-suited route would possibly give Evenepoel one thing of a free shot at testing himself towards Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vinegaard forward of a extra focused build-up in 2024. For now, nevertheless, that’s all newspaper discuss, as Lefevere instructed Het Nieuwsblad on Monday.
“I perceive that it’s important to fill every day newspapers, however I do not want to touch upon that,” Lefevere stated. “The Tour staff has not been determined but, apart from just a few names. The entire staff round Remco is at the moment nonetheless on the Giro. He’ll get well first after which we’ll sit down collectively quietly, with Remco’s father too. If Remco calls and says, ‘I completely wish to go to the Tour,’ then it is one thing else. However he is not going to do this.”
Evenepoel has turn out to be the third rider to depart the Giro whereas carrying the maglia rosa after Eddy Merckx in 1969 and Marco Pantani in 1999, although there’s a very apparent and necessary distinction to be made between his case and the 2 historic precedents. Whereas Merckx and Pantani had been each expelled from the Giro, Evenepoel has withdrawn of his personal volition for well being causes.
Irrespective of, many in Belgium will undoubtedly level to how Merckx’s tearful departure from the 1969 Giro in Savona was adopted weeks later by a most dominant victory on his Tour de France debut. The eventual resolution of Evenepoel and his staff, nevertheless, will likely be knowledgeable by the pace of his restoration relatively than impressed by any parallels with historical past.
“Apparently, he had hassle sleeping final evening as a result of, at 1.35 am, we had been sending textual content messages,” Lefevere stated. “The tenor of them was: take a breath and look ahead once more. That is what we’ll do now: get well from the virus, take just a few days’ relaxation after which sit quietly collectively and see what we’ll do.”