Evenepoel: Pinning a number on again will be the best feeling

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel celebrates winning the 2020 Volta ao Algarve
Remco Evenepoel at the Volta ao Algarve (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered races and forced riders into lockdown, the Deceuninck-Quickstep team had amassed more victories than any other team in three short months of racing. Remco Evenepoel, who claimed five of the team's 15 wins, expressed relief at the UCI's announcement of a revised calendar of racing on Tuesday.

With the Olympic Games postponed until 2021, the young Belgian will have his pick of new goals in the compressed August through November road season, which is scheduled to restart with Strade Bianche on August 1 and run through to the end of the Vuelta a España on November 8.

"Obviously, we are still looking at the calendar as it is new, but it looks to have all of the big important races, which at this point is exciting to see," Evenepoel said in a press release.

"I will need some time to sit down with the team and pick out some new goals and how we go about achieving them. For sure, after the last few months it's nice to see something written down and have something to work towards. My main goal this year was the Olympic Games, so we have to see what we can achieve in the meantime and make the most of the rest of the year."

The 20-year-old was due to make his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia this month, but with the race postponed until October 3, there could be a shift in the Belgian's calendar. The team made no pronouncements of which riders would target which races, but Evenepoel just wants to get racing again.

"Pinning a number on again will be the best feeling and I am looking forward to it," he said.

Julian Alaphilippe, who last year wore the Tour de France leader's jersey for 14 days and won two stages, will undoubtedly want to head to the Tour again when it starts on August 29, the final stage of which will overlap with the UCI Road World Championships time trial.

"Having something official is a great relief in these hard times," Alaphilippe said. "We now have some real goals, races that we know will happen in August, September and October, and this makes us even more motivated. I will talk with the team this week about my schedule, to which I am really looking forward now."

Classics specialist Zdenek Štybar may well be putting his focus on late October, a throwback to his cyclo-cross days, to target the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on October 18 and 25th, respectively.

"It gives me a lot of joy to know when Flanders and Roubaix will take place, although it's weird to have them in autumn. October should be quite a busy month and it will be a challenge to see how our program will look like once we return to competition, but I can't wait to talk with the sports directors and start working for these goals."

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