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Lefevere ‘not ruling out’ sending Remco Evenepoel to 2023 Tour de France

Lefevere believes Evenepoel can thrive in the mountainous Tour just as well as the TT heavy Giro: 'He can handle this course'

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Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl isn’t only thinking pink as it mulls a 2023 calendar for Remco Evenepoel.

Team boss Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad the explosive, mountain-laden 2023 Tour de France that was revealed last week could be just as suited to his young champion as next year’s time trial-heavy Giro d’Italia.

“I think that a good Remco Evenepoel, as we saw in the Vuelta a España, can handle this [Tour de France] course. He has also proven that he can drop his competitors on the steep sections,” Lefevere said. “It doesn’t always have to be a time trial.”

Speculation soared in recent weeks as to which riders would target which grand tours in 2023.

RCS Sport two weeks ago released its Giro route for next year, an old-school behemoth boasting 70 kilometers of time trialing some said was designed to entice the newly banded world champion.

ASO pivoted far from the corsa rosa with a Tour de France that would be decided in the mountains.

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Lefevere recently told VeloNews that Evenepoel would likely return to the Giro in 2023 as a stepping-stone to a future Tour debut.

Yet the prospect of a match-up with Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard next summer on a course short on time trialing and suited to climbers could be too tantalizing to miss.

“We’re going to sit down at our leisure to decide what we’re going to do. We will make that decision at training camp in December or January,” Lefevere said after he saw the 2023 Tour route.

“It would be foolish to make a decision now in the heat of the battle and five minutes after the course was announced. But not yet. We are not ruling out anything.”

Pogačar, Prudhomme weigh in

Tadej Pogacar at the Tour de France route announcement
Pogačar returns to the Tour in 2023 looking to avenge his 2022 defeat. (Photo: Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

A small chorus sang for Evenepoel to turn his attention directly to the Tour after he dominated the Vuelta and won the road worlds this summer.

Pogačar baited the rider following in his early-career blaze through grand tours and one-day races when he spoke at the Tour route presentation Thursday.

“Remco has to write his own story and put together its own program,” Pogačar said. “I can’t tell him to come to the Tour. It’s his decision. He is world champion and one of the best riders. But if I was world champion, I would go to the Tour.”

Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme is biding his time as he waits for a more-than-likely 2024 Tour de France debut for Evenepoel.

“Evenepoel is of course welcome in this Tour de France. He is a pure talent, one that has already shown that talent several times,” Prudhomme said.

“He doesn’t need those many time trial kilometers to win either. Liège-Bastogne-Liège was not a time trial. Neither was La Redoute [a climb in Liège – ed]. But I am sure that Remco will ride the Tour one day. Whether that is this year or in 2024, he will also be only 24. We remain calm.”

The coming season could see Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl shoring up its climbing crew to reinforce Evenepoel’s grand tour ambitions as Lefevere shelters Evenepoel from the Tour de France whirlwind. Fabio Jakobsen or newly recruited fast-finisher Tim Merlier would instead hunt green in France next July.

“It is still too early to decide now,” Lefevere said of his Tour selection. Calendars will be sketched out in the deep winter, and all eyes will be waiting to see them.