Alpecin-Fenix won the road race in both 2019 and 2020, and Evenepoel – who will use Sunday as his last competitive outing before the Tokyo Olympic Games – will line up in a nine-name team that includes the last Deceuninck-QuickStep rider to win the title, Yves Lampaert.
“It’s a big kermesse race but a bit harder. It’s going to be fast and the weather conditions could make it tricky with some wind and rain. It’s going to be a pure Belgian race. Am I made for that? I don’t know but as a team, we’ll do everything that we can to take the jersey home,” Evenepoel told the Belgian media and Cyclingnews during a press conference on Friday in which the team also announced that Safety Jogger would come on board as a sub sponsor.
“After two years of Alpecin, we should take it back. We’re motivated to take the jersey home with us. We’re riding well and the guys who are coming from an altitude camp are in really good shape. If we race smart we can go far in the race on Sunday.”
Lampaert and Evenepoel went one-two in the time trial at the Belgian championships earlier in the week but Evenepoel admitted that he is still someway short of his best form.
He faded and then eventually abandoned the Giro d’Italia back in May but bounced back to win a stage and the overall at the Baloise Belgian Tour earlier this month. Consistency, he says, remains elusive but on Sunday he and his team are likely to race an aggressive race as they look to make the finale as difficult as possible.
Without a pure sprinter in the team Lefevere’s squad are likely to also lean on the conditions in order to isolate their rivals. Evenepoel, who won national, European and World titles as a junior, would dearly like to win his first elite national road title.
“There’s still some work to be done in order for me to get back to my really good level. The level isn’t bad but there are some details still missing. I have some good days but there’s always a bad day in between. It’s not a flat line, there’s too much up and down. That’s what we’re working on now. This my last race before the Olympics,” he said.
“We have nine, which isn’t the biggest team, but I can’t tell you my tactics. You’ll have to wait until Sunday but that’s the strength of our team – if someone goes then there are others that can go if the attack is brought back. Everyone one of us can come close to the win but it’s never as easy as it looks. Everyone will watch us.
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