After a late start to the season and a serious crash in his first race, the Giro d'Italia, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is looking at the European Championships to revive his 2021 road campaign.
However, his comments on the race, sent by the event organisers, were met with surprise from Belgian national coach Sven Vanthourenhout, who told Het Laatste Nieuws that the team selection has not yet been decided.
"After all I've been through, winning the European Championships in Trentino would mean a lot," Evenepoel said in a press release sent by UEC.
Evenepoel won the 2019 European time trial title but did not compete in the event last year, as the coronavirus pandemic calendar reshuffle positioned Il Lombardia two weeks before the event. He crashed off a bridge in the Italian Classic and fractured his pelvis, and spent the next six months rehabilitating.
"I have worked hard to get back after the injury. The Giro d'Italia had started very well, even if it didn't end in the best of ways. The Olympics didn't go as planned either," Evenepoel said of his season so far.
"Now I'm gradually starting to build up my shape again for the European Championships. I am looking to prepare at my best, going through functional races and working on my explosiveness."
Evenepoel, who crashed out of the Giro on stage 17 when he went over a guardrail on a descent, came back in June to win the Baloise Belgium Tour time trial and overall classification. But the bid at the Tokyo Olympic Games fell flat, with Evenepoel finishing ninth in the time trial.
Currently racing at the Tour of Denmark, Evenepoel has not yet been confirmed on the team for the UEC Championships in Trentino, according to Vanthourenhout.
"How did the UEC come to that? The selection is not yet official. No selection proposal has yet been made and it has not yet been discussed within the association," Vanthourenhout said.
Although Evenepoel may be going to the European Championships, neither Vanthourenhout nor Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere are placing any expectations on the 21-year-old.
Lefevere has planned a race-packed late season for Evenepoel with the aim of him getting enough race days to find form for next season. After the Tour of Denmark, his schedule to ride Druivenkoers-Overijse on August 26, Brussels Cycling Classic on August 28, and the Benelux Tour from August 30 to September 5.
The UEC Championships take place from September 8-12, with the elite men's time trial on September 9 and road race on September 12.
Evenepoel is also slated to race the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders, with the men's time trial on September 22 and the road race on September 26, then Il Lombardia on October 9.
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