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Evenepoel: I have some steps to take to challenge Pogacar, Bernal, Roglic

Tour of Denmark 2021 - 31st Edition - 3rd stage Tonder - Vejle 219,2 km - 12/08/2021 - Remco Evenepoel (BEL - Deceuninck - Quick-Step) - photo Thomas Sjorup/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021
Evenepoel at the Tour of Denmark (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

After ending his season at the weekend's Chrono des Nations, Remco Evenepoel has said that he hopes to make a step up to reach the level of Grand Tour winners Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal, and Primož Roglič in 2022.

The 21-year-old, who placed fifth in the 44.5-kilometre time trial on Sunday, 1:22 down on winner Stefan Küng, said he had returned to a top level during the 2021 season, having endured a late start to the year following his Il Lombardia crash a year ago.

Despite an impressive comeback, which has seen the Deceuninck-QuickStep prodigy taste success at the Baloise Belgium Tour, Tour of Denmark, Brussels Cycling Classic and Coppa Bernocchi among a total of eight victories, Evenepoel said he's still hoping to take another step after the winter.

"I returned to the level of the best, to an excellent level, but not yet what we wanted and hoped for with the team," Evenepoel said in an interview with La Derniere Heure on Sunday.

"We know that I have the possibility to be doing better but we still need a little patience. The time will come, for sure. You need to have the legs, know how to choose the moment and spend a winter without problems.

"But I still have some steps to take before I can challenge Pogačar, Bernal, and Roglič, and above all be able to beat them. I hope it will be the case as of next season."

After suffering a fractured pelvis in his crash on the Muro di Sormano at Il Lombardia last August, Evenepoel made his racing return at this year's Giro d'Italia. After almost eight months off the bike, he enjoyed some solid rides at his Grand Tour debut, lying second overall at one point before dropping out of contention on the gravel and in the mountains.

He abandoned after stage 17 but came back to put in a series of top results, culminating in a starring – if disputed – ride at the Worlds, and a 31-kilometre solo victory at the Coppa Bernocchi at the beginning of October.

With two last race days under his belt since then, including a return to Il Lombardia, he said that he's now happy to take some time off, having worked near non-stop in training and rehab since the middle of last season.

"I am happy to go on vacation," Evenepoel said. "It will do me a lot of good, physically and mentally. I need it because I have been working tirelessly for a year and a half – since the crash but even before that."

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