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Lefevere: Tokyo might be Evenepoel's best chance at Olympic gold

Deceuninck-QuickStep's Remco Evenepoel races to victory on stage 3 of the 2020 Vuelta a Burgos to take the overall lead
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at the Vuelta a Burgos (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has said that the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 might be Remco Evenepoel's best chance for gold, adding that he hopes to target Tour de France victory with the 20-year-old in the next five years.

In only his second professional season, Evenepoel was already among the favourites for gold in Tokyo. He was selected for both the road race and time trial on the tough course around Mount Fuji before the Games were delayed by a year due to COVID-19.

With the 2024 Olympics taking place in Paris, which would likely mean a largely flat course, Lefevere believes that next summer should be Evenepoel's best chance at a gold medal for some time.

"Remco has always said he wants to go to the Olympics for the road and time trial. He is already automatically selected and it's only every four years," Lefevere told Sporza.

"In 2024, the Games will take place in Paris. What kind of course will that be? I don't see any big mountains there. Next year might be Remco's chance to become an Olympic champion – if the Games go ahead."

Now at the end of his 18th year in charge of the team, Lefevere said that he will keep going for a while yet.

He'll turn 66 in January, but trusts the team around him, and proposed a kind of five-year plan that could see the team target their first Tour de France victory with Evenepoel.

"I haven't had enough of this, but I won't stretch it out indefinitely," Lefevere said. "I'm very well surrounded, so I don't necessarily have to be present at every race. Actually, I only have to do two things – take care of the money and keep breathing.

"I would prefer a project of five years. Then I can build something around Remco and hopefully we can give Belgium a Tour victory. But if I've never won the Tour de France with my team, it won't be on my headstone."

In addition to looking to the future, Lefevere looked back on the 2020 season, which was yet another successful one for Deceuninck-QuickStep. The Belgian team took 39 wins, more than any other team for the eighth year in a row.

Lefevere evaluated 2020 as a good year for the team, despite numerous injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the season, selecting Julian Alaphilippe's Worlds victory in Imola as his moment of the season.

"[We were successful] despite three months of lockdown and five injured riders, some of whom were badly injured," he said. "Remco Evenepoel has done a lot of things in 2020. He rode four stage races and won them all. Our young rider João Almeida wore the pink jersey in the Giro for 15 days and Sam Bennett won in the green jersey on the Champs-Élysées.

"Everybody says the same thing to me every year: 'Next year that won't be possible anymore.' And yet, over the past eight years (or more), I've been able to do it over and over again.

"The world title of Julian Alaphilippe. To have a world champion in the team is always something magical. It moved me. I especially like the way he did it. Everyone knew that Alaphilippe would launch his attack there and yet he rode away.

"It is said that Primož Roglič didn't ride full in the chase, but I don't think he could have done better. I've also heard guys who were in that group and they said: 'we just couldn't do any better.'"