The Deceuninck-QuickStep rider left the Corsa Rosa after flipping over a metal guard rail while trying to avoid a downhill crash on stage 17 to Sega di Ala. He finished the stage but suffered cuts to his hand, knee and arm, along with bruised ribs and a significant swelling on his left elbow. After losing time and suffering in earlier stages of the race, especially on the dirt road stage to Montalcino, Evenepoel opted to head home and rest up.
His next major goal is the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics, with an altitude training camp scheduled for later in June. However, team manager Patrick Lefevere was keen for his rising star to quickly return to racing to overcome any doubts about his bike skills.
The 193km Elfstedenronde race starts and finishes in Bruges, with a long lap south into West Flanders before several finishing circuits.
According to the race organisers Giro d’Italia stage winner Tim Merlier (Alepcin-Fenix) will also ride, as will Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nicolo Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal).
Deceuninck-QuickStep have still to confirm their line-up but the organisers claimed that Mark Cavendish, Davide Ballerini, Zdenek Stybar and Yves Lampaert will line-up alongside Evenepoel.
Eveenpeol fractured his pelvis at last summer’s Il Lombardia and only returned to racing at the Giro d’Italia after three months of racing.
Despite reports that Deceuninck-QuickStep will work with Moto GP pilot Carl Critchlow to help Evenepoel’s bike skills, he played down any serious weaknesses.
“I looked at everything again: it's been exactly two months since I finished my first four-hour training session. Then you know that the basic form and content are not big enough to perform,” Evenepoel explained to Het Laatste Nieuws, reflecting on his disrupted build-up to the Giro d’Italia.
“The biggest lesson is that you have to have perfect preparation to do a perfect Grand Tour. With such a short preparation, a rider is not capable of being hyper-concentrated and hyper-focused every day for three weeks at the highest level. That takes energy and my body was not ready for that yet.”
“Maybe it will take a whole year before I get back to my top level. But I can hardly blame myself. I have worked out everything down to the last detail of what the team, my coach and the doctors have said to do.”
“I think I can be happy with the first ten days of my Giro. I was second on the rest day and had a chance to take the pink. I may have missed out on that one and I regret that a little bit.”
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