New European time trial champion Remco Evenepoel – who on Thursday took the title in Alkmaar, in the Netherlands – has dedicated his win to Belgian compatriots Bjorg Lambrecht, who died following a crash on Monday, and Stef Loos, who passed away following an accident in March this year.
Lotto Soudal rider Lambrecht was killed after crashing during stage 3 of the Tour de Pologne three days ago. Loos lost his life during the Mémorial Alfred Gadenne elite amateur race in spring, after going off course and colliding with a van. Nineteen-year-old Evenepoel said ahead of his ride on Thursday that he was trying to win the stars – referring to the stars on the European champion's jersey – for the stars of his colleagues in the sky.
"I gave everything that I had to try to win for Bjorg and Stef," said Evenepoel on his Deceuninck-QuickStep team's website. "Thinking of them gave me a boost while warming up, but also during the race.
"This victory isn't mine – it's theirs. This is for the boys in heaven," he added.
""I know that Remco was thinking about Bjorg and Stef," Evenepoel's father, Patrick, told hln.be. "I can see that he's now cracking emotionally, but I think that's so beautiful.
"He should keep his feet on the ground? Just let him do it [celebrate]. He feels good about himself. Remco is a simple guy: he sent me a message that I had to make sure that his supporters were involved in the celebrations after he won in San Sebastian. Now we have to celebrate a European title," he said.
Evenepoel was somewhat of a surprise winner of the Clasica San Sebastian in Spain last weekend – his first WorldTour one-day race – and now has five victories in what is only his first season in the professional ranks.
"This is incredible," Evenepoel acknowledged. "Last week [I won] San Sebastian, and now this. I can't believe it. Winning the European title in this discipline is amazing, and I'm going to enjoy this moment, just as I have enjoyed all the other great moments since turning pro, without thinking of what the future will hold."