Deceuninck-Quick-Step confirmed its injured Belgian star has the green light to resume training, while the world champion will debut his 2021 season at the Tour de la Provence this week.
Team doctors gave the all-clear for the 21-year-old following another round of exams Monday. Evenepoel’s recovery from his crash last fall at Il Lombardia saw a setback last month when he was forced to put a pause on training. Doctors say they will watch his progress closely before setting out a racing program.
“The recovery process from a crash of the magnitude that Remco had will always have some ups and downs,” said team doctor Phil Jansen on Monday. “In the beginning it was all very positive and healing very quickly but then we had a slowing of the process. While this was nothing too severe, we had to pause and we are now happy that Remco can continue training and build towards the start of his season. We will have to proceed with caution and it will still be a long road to him being on the start line of a race, but it is now going in the right direction.”
Team staffers remain hopeful Evenepoel will return to racing this spring, perhaps with a tilt at the Giro d’Italia in his highly anticipated grand tour debut.
“I am obviously really happy that I can get back on my bike and ride again,” Evenepoel said. “For now, I have to take it step by step and depending on my progress we can decide my future program, but the main thing is I am making progress.”
Deceuninck-Quick-Step sends classics squad to Tour de la Provence
Meanwhile, in France, the team is sending many of its classics-bound riders to the Tour de la Provence, set for Thursday to Sunday. A mix of stages for sprinters, puncheurs, and a climb to Chalet Reynard on the flanks of Mont Ventoux will see Alaphilippe don the rainbow jersey for the first time in 2021.
Alaphilippe will start the Tour de la Provence for the first time since 2016, when the race held its first edition. The Frenchman, who in the past two seasons kick-started his campaign in South America, will be making his first appearance on home roads since last year’s Tour de France, which included a run in yellow and a stage-win.
Other starters include Danish national champion Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, Rémi Cavagna, Mauri Vansevenant, and Paris-Roubaix podium finishers Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar.
“With so many races canceled or postponed, we had to make some changes in our line-up, that’s why we have a classics-orientated team for [this] week,” said sports director Geert Van Bondt. “We’re happy to get the season underway and to have Julian show his rainbow jersey for the first time this year in France. The guys are feeling good, they are all motivated, and we are confident that this solid squad is capable of fighting for some nice results. Our main goal is to give our best there and get back that racing feeling that we love and have missed so much.”