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Belgium’s post-worlds rancor continues to churn in the fallout of the elite men’s misfire last month in Leuven.
Remco Evenepoel didn’t hold back in the wake of Belgium’s disappointment in last month’s world championships and later said in a high-profile TV interview that the Belgian national team screwed up its tactics, even suggesting that he could have won the rainbow jersey.
Stuyven, who finished fourth just off the podium, told Het Nieuwsblad that some things should be left behind closed doors.
“Remco should slow down sometimes,” Stuyven told HNB. “He still has to learn when to say things and when not to say things. He’s also a super-strong rider – which he certainly is – and should realize that some things should remain internal.”
Disappointment and bitterness remain
Belgium was the heavy favorite in the elite men’s road race, with the team’s tactics built around van Aert. The multifaceted star, however, didn’t have the legs to follow the late move by eventual winner Julian Alaphilippe.
Stuyven countered and rode into a group of four chasers, including American Neilson Powless, only to muster third in the final sprint, finishing a bitter fourth just off the podium.
Stuyven lamented his near-miss at the podium while racing in his hometown in Leuven, but also admitted he could have never beat Alaphilippe even if he could have gone clear with him in the closing laps.
“I had a great day, kicked my best values ever, and maybe I could have followed Alaphilippe,” he told HNB. “But he would still beat me in the sprint, but then I would have been on the podium.”
Stuyven didn’t hold back when he was asked about Evenepoel. The young Belgian rode into the early moves, and later flamed out to finish 62nd.
Evenepoel later criticized the team tactics and even suggested he could have won the rainbow stripes had he been a protected rider.
Stuyven revealed that Evenepoel did not attend a post-worlds virtual team meeting that discussed the team’s world’s performance and tactics.
“There was another debriefing five days after the world championships,” Stuyven continued. “Online … it took half an hour. Everyone was there, except Remco. He was aware of it but didn’t think it was necessary. Too bad, because he did need to say things on TV — things that have [bothered] some of us.”
Stuyven also said he does not believe that Evenepoel could have become world champion.
“In the first place, he should have raced a different race,” Stuyven said. “What he did do — ride full in the early break, gesticulate, and be omnipresent until the final started — anyone can do. But even if he had spared himself, he had never ridden away from Alaphilippe.”
In the wake of Belgium’s lack of cohesion, Alaphilippe pounced and never looked back.