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Evenepoel all-in for Wout van Aert at World Championships

Belgian road cyclist Wout Van Aert and Belgian road cyclist Remco Evenepoel pictured at the start of the mens cycling road race on the second day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Belgian road cyclist Wout Van Aert and Belgian road cyclist Remco Evenepoel pictured at the start of the mens cycling road race on the second day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel was pleased to have made the final cut for Belgium’s selections for the elite men’s time trial on September 19 and road race on September 26 at the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders. Belgian Champion Wout van Aert has been named as the team leader for the road race and Evenepoel has stated that he is ‘100 per cent behind the [team] tactics.”

“It is always great fun to represent your own country at a World Championships,” Evenepoel said in a report published on Nieuwsblad Monday. “The fact that it is still in our own country makes it extra special. It was a struggle to get the last spot, but I'm happy to be back in top shape just in time. I think I deserve my spot, but we know what we're going for. I am 100 per cent behind the tactics and I am going to throw myself [behind it] completely.”

The final selection for the road race includes eight riders with van Aert and Evenepoel, along with  Tiesj Benoot, Victor Campenaerts, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert, Jasper Stuyven, Dylan Teuns. Evenepoel and van Aert will also compete in the time trial.

National coach Sven Vanthorenhout stated that van Aert was the designated team leader for the elite men’s road race. Evenepoel acknowledged that anything can happen in a race but that he felt that van Aert was the obvious choice to lead the team and that he might be the only rider of the team to finish the 268km race.

"It's very clear that Wout is leading the way, and everything is done in function of him. But you never know with certain race situations, for example, if he has a bad day or gets into a crash. So many things can happen. But when the situation arises, everyone rides for Wout,” Evenepoel said.

“We start with that idea, but things can always change throughout the race. But if we go into the final rounds of Leuven with Wout still there, it's simple. He's also the one with the best chance of finishing out of the eight of us. 

“The important thing is that everyone knows what to do when Wout is there, and also when he's not there. Everyone knows what we're going for: to become world champions with Wout in the first place. But there can always be a situation that that plan can't be completed, but we're all professional enough to work out plan B and - hopefully it won't come to that - plan C as well."

The elite men’s 268km race begins in Antwerp and travels south toward Leuven where they peloton will tackle multiple laps of two different finishing circuits; Flandrien (6 climbs) and Leuven (with four climbs) before the finish.

Evenepoel is expecting a tactical race and he’d like to see the Belgian team involved in any major splits in the field, and he sees himself being part of the earlier race moves.

“I think it makes sense that if there is a race, we have to be with it and never go down. We always have to go along with the offensive moves, preferably with Wout involved. But of course he can't go along with everything to be there in the final, we are there of course for that. If I think logically, that will also be my task: if there is an early race, I have to make sure that I am with it. Then I have to ride along defensively because I have the leader behind me.”

Evenepoel won the Baloise Belgium Tour in June and the Tour of Denmark in August followed by Druivenkoers-Overijse and Brussels Cycling Classic. He was ill with stomach problems at the Benelux Tour last week and did not start ahead of stage 5. He will next race at the European Championships on September 9.

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.