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Belgian sensation Remco Evenepoel is still aiming for that grand tour debut that eluded him in 2020.
Evenepoel was supposed to make his highly anticipated grand tour opener at the 2020 Giro d’Italia. With his recovery going well from his horrific crash at Il Lombardia that ended his season in August, the Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider is already looking ahead to next season.
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He promises there will be a grand tour in his 2021 plans, but it won’t be the Tour de France.
“I first want to start in one of the other two grand tours, and finish it before I go to the Tour,” Evenepoel told the Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws.
Whether that means it’s the Giro d’Italia in May or the Vuelta a España in August remains to be seen. With the Tokyo Olympic Games pushed into 2021, Evenepoel’s Olympic ambitions, where he is expected to challenge for a medal in the time trial, will impact his eventual racing schedule for the coming campaign.
Evenepoel, who turns 21 next month, is well on the road to recovery from his nasty crash that ended his season during Il Lombardia in August. Following a recovery period, Evenepoel recently wrapped up a training camp in Spain. Despite a serious fall, he did not require surgery to treat a hip injury.
Evenepoel said he will be working closely with team doctors and staffers to gauge his ability to compete once again at the highest level.
“I have to listen to my body, or I will have setbacks,” he said of his return to racing. “I might not be able to contain myself, but that’s what I have to do. Otherwise, I will see complications later.”
Evenepoel still has yet to finalize his opening races for 2021, but it’s likely he will be returning to race in Spain or France for a string of races that fill February with race days that will be appealing to the peloton looking to limit travel as the coronavirus pandemic continues to churn.
Despite his crash in Il Lombardia, his grand tour ambitions remain fully intact. No matter which one he races, he hopes to at least put one grand tour into his legs in 2021.
“I don’t make a big distinction between the three grand tours, in my opinion, they are equally important,” he said. “The Tour is the largest in terms of profile. As a result, there is more pressure and tension and the Tour is also the most interesting for the sponsors.”
With Belgian fans and media watching his every move, there is always quite a bit of hype around every race Evenepoel lines up for, and even more so in 2021.