Evenepoel claimed both the road and time trial world titles in Innsbruck in September at the end of a remarkable season that saw him dominate the junior peloton at international level. The Belgian youngster will bypass the under-23 ranks in 2019, moving directly from junior racing to WorldTour level with Deceuninck-QuickStep.
Last month, the Belgian team revealed that the teenager would ride a light programme of 55 race days in 2019. At a gathering of his supporters’ club in Geraardsbergen at the weekend, Evenepoel confirmed that he will not tackle the Muur in competition in 2019.
“No Tour of Flanders or Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for me,” Evenepoel said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “I’m focusing on the Walloon Classics and short stage races. You cannot compare the professional Flemish Classics with those of the juniors. They are completely different. I won’t pass by here in a race.”
Evenepoel only turned to cycling in 2017 after previously playing football in the youth structures of Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven. The son of 1990s professional rider Patrick, Evenepoel compiled a stunning sequence of wins as a junior in 2018, including Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the Giro della Lunigiana stage race, the Peace Race, the Belgian Championships and a double at the European Championships, where he won the road race by a margin of almost ten minutes.
His performances have earned the admiration of Eddy Merckx, who told Het Laatste Nieuws: "What else could I teach him? Nothing. He can do it all.”
It was previously announced that Evenepoel is likely to make his professional debut at the Vuelta a San Juan in January, tackling a stage race per month thereafter in the opening part of the season, with the Volta ao Algarve, Volta a Catalunya and Tour of Turkey pencilled also into his schedule.
“I’m in a good team and I’ll see what happens,” said Evenepoel, who joins Deceuninck-QuickStep for a training camp this week. “I won’t let myself be rushed. My feet are on the ground.”