Remco Evenepoel will reunite with Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates at Nokere Koerse and Bredene Koksijde Classic on Wednesday and Friday in Belgium. Despite crashing out of the UAE Tour in February, the 19-year-old has otherwise had a strong start to his debut season with Deceuninck-QuickStep in his two opening stage races, and the team's management is eager to see how he performs in the one-day Classics.
Deceuninck-QuickStep have already won four of the opening Classics: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Le Samyn and Strade Bianche, among their total of 18 victories so far this season.
At Nokere Koerse, Evenepoel will join the team's sprinter, Alvaro Hodeg, who won a stage at the Colombia Tour, Rémi Cavagna, Iljo Keisse, Davide Martinelli, Le Samyn winner Florian Sénéchal and Pieter Serry, during the 195.6km race.
"Nokere, with its narrow roads and legendary cobbled uphill finish, was already going to be tough, but the wind and rain can turn it into a race of attrition," said sports director Rik Van Slycke in a team press release.
"In case it comes down to a bunch sprint, Alvaro will rely on Florian and Davide, but we have also other riders who can have a say in the finale depending on how things unfold, like Pieter or young Remco, who we are curious to see how he fares in this type of races."
Evenepoel will also race the 197.5km at Bredene Koksijde Classic on Friday with a similar team. However, Volta ao Algarve stage winner Fabio Jakobsen will replace Florian Sénéchal. Jakobsen also won last year's Nokere Koerse but will not be participating in the race this year.
"This too is going to be a difficult race, with the Kemmelberg as the main climb on the course and the windy roads of De Panne and Koksijde, which could very well lead to some echelons," Van Slycke said. "As always, we will try to be up there, shape the race and hopefully come out of it with a good result."
Evenepoel won the junior titles in the road race and the time trial at the 2018 World Championships in Innsbruck. He decided to skip the under-23 ranks and sign a contract to race with Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2019.
He joined the WorldTour team for the first time this year at the Vuelta a San Juan where he was third in the stage 3 time trial, and then finished the stage race in ninth place overall and the winner of the best young rider category.
He continued with strong performances at the UAE Tour in February where he helped the team to seventh in the opening team time trial, and then placed 15th on stage 3 at the top of the Jebel Hafeet climb. However, a crash through crosswinds that swept through stage 4 forced him to abandon the race.
He was taken to hospital, and the team later reported that he had suffered abrasions to his fingers, arms and hips, but that there were no fractures. The team also noted that the crash would not affect his spring schedule and that he would start racing again in late March.