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Evenepoel to make 2022 debut at Vuelta a San Juan but Grand Tour goals still to be decided

Giro dItalia 2021 104th Edition 4th stage Piacenza Sestola 187 km 11052021 Remco Evenepoel BEL Deceuninck QuickStep photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Remco Evenepoel will start his 2022 season at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, but his Grand Tour plans are still to be decided, with Deceuninck-QuickStep management keen to see the routes of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España before formalising the talented young Belgian’s major goals. 

Evenepoel won the 2020 Vuelta a San Juan just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world and the sport into lockdown. The race was cancelled in 2021 but has recently been confirmed for January 30-February 6, 2022, with eight WorldTour teams said to be keen to ride after the cancellation of the Tour Down Under. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep will be known as Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl in 2022 and team manager Patrick Lefevere recently told Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure that Evenepoel will target shorter stage races in the first part of 2022 and that the team will only confirm their Grand Tour strategy in December at their first training camp in Spain.   

Evenepoel ended his 2021 season with a disappointing ride at Il Lombardia and has since enjoyed a holiday in Dubai. He rode the Belgian Waffle Ride in Kansas at the weekend and is now in California to visit sponsors Oakley and Specialized.  

The Hungarian Grande Partenza of the 2022 Giro d’Italia is presented on Wednesday, with other stages of the Corsa Rosa revealed during the next seven days. Evenepoel rode the 2021 Giro d’Italia after taking further time off the bike in the early months of the year to recover from his fractured hip. It was his first race of the year and, after showing signs of form, he faded in the mountains in the second week and didn’t start stage 18 following a crash.

Lefevere has made it clear Evenepoel will not ride the Tour de France in 2022, leaving the Giro d’Italia in May and the Vuelta a España in August as options. World Champion Julian Alaphilippe has said he will ride the Tour de France and the Ardennes Classics but will miss the Tour of Flanders in 2022. 

"We still haven't decided yet," Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad when asked about Evenepoel's Grand Tour goals.  

"We are still debating a bit in the team about what will be the best Grand Tour for Remco in 2022. I have my idea and initially thought of the Giro, but contrary to what some people think, I’m no dictator. I also listen to the team leaders and coaches before we make a decision during the first training camp in December." 

Lefevere refuted a suggestion that he has struck a deal with one of the Grand Tour organisers to ensure Evenepoel’s presence.    

"Before I can make a deal with an organisation, I first want to know the route," he said. 

Lefevere did confirm he has signed a deal for Evenepoel to ride the Vuelta a San Juan and so defend his overall victory of 2020, even if the COVID-19 pandemic could still affect the race. Argentina has suffered a high number of COVID-19 cases and so race organisers have drawn up a strict protocol and contract terms to protect the race and the riders.    

"I’ve signed a contract with that organisation, but the anti-COVID measures are greater than the contract," Lefevere said.

"That organisation covers itself from here to Tokyo in case it can't go on due to COVID circumstances. It remains conditional."

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