Remco Evenepoel enjoyed a debut season to remember, with wins at Clásica San Sebastián and the European time trial Championship part of a glittering 2019 for the Deceuninck-QuickStep teenager. In 2020 he aiming for further success in the individual time trial at the Tokyo Olympics and the hilly World Championships in Switzerland.
The 19-year-old wasn't able to add to his trophy cabinet at the prestigious 'Flandrien of the Year' awards in Belgium on Tuesday night, missing out on the title to Jumbo-Visma's Wout Van Aert by a solitary point. However he was still in good spirits at the ceremony, hosted by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, and outlined his main goals for his sophomore season.
"The Olympic Games and the World Championships will be my big goals," Evenepoel said in an interview with the newspaper.
"That's where I want to do something, so that no-one will have any doubt at the vote next year," he added, jokingly.
As well as his San Sebastián solo victory and European TT crown, Evenepoel can also count among his successes a stage and the overall at the Baloise Belgium Tour, plus a stage at the Adriatica Ionica Race, and second in the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire. That result secured him a place in the Belgium team for the Tokyo Olympics, with Victor Campenaerts and Wout van Aert likely to fight for the second spot.
"I've had a super season," Evenepoel said of his debut as a professional at just 19.
"It's crazy that I'm in the nominees in my neo-professional year, and I've only just lost. I can't be disappointed, and I have to be proud. For me, it's an additional motivation for next year.
"I think Wout has a slightly better sprint than me. Both literally and figuratively," he joked.
Evenepoel revealed that Van Aert is a rider he looks up to, even if the Jumbo-Visma man is only 25 years old himself. Evenepoel only started cycling in 2017, at the same time Van Aert was out winning cyclo-cross World Championships.
"Van Aert is an example to me anyway. When I was still playing football, I watched the races and the cross races. In that world, he was an idol to me.
"We only met at the Belgian time trial championships, where he deservedly won. At that time, I wasn't at my best level, but he blew everyone away. And also today it was Wout instead of me.
"I think his popularity from cyclo-cross also played a role, but I don't begrudge him. That's how it would've been if Philippe [Gilbert] won this trophy a fourth time. It was a logical top three."
With a big 2020 season ahead, it's no surprise that the work has already begun for Evenepoel. He stated that he's already started training and has taken time out away from working in Spain to attend the awards in Belgium.
"I have already lost two kilogrames," he said of his training so far.
"On Thursday I have to visit the royal palace, and after that I fly back to Calpe. I don't know where I will start the new season yet, but it certainly won't be at the Tour Down Under."