Evenepoel only started racing this season at the Giro d’Italia in May after he broke his pelvis in a crash at Il Lombardia in August of last year. He abandoned his debut Grand Tour after another crash in the third week, but he returned to win the Tour of Belgium shortly afterwards.
The 21-year-old prepared specifically for the Tokyo Olympics in recent weeks, but he could only manage 49th in the road race and 9th in the individual time trial. Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab), Lefevere stressed that the Belgian needed more racing days to aid his preparation for 2022.
"No rest. He only has 27 racing days. He has to race until the end of this season in function of 2022, at least if his head still cooperates," said Lefevere, though he ruled out participation in the Vuelta.
"And also no Tour of Poland, even if he wanted to. He would be defending the title there, so the pressure is on. Moreover, we already told [João] Almeida that he could ride Poland for a classification.
"Remco will resume on August 10 at the Tour of Denmark, then he’ll ride Overijse, Brussels, the Benelux Tour, the World Championship and Il Lombardia."
After a subdued display in the Tokyo time trial, Evenepoel suggested that his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Yves Lampaert might be more deserving of a place in the individual time trial at the World Championships, but Lefevere insisted it was too soon to take a decision.
"His dad already sent me a message about the World Championships. I said, ‘Let's not decide yet'," Lefevere said. "Honestly, after his road race it could have been less than ninth place [in the time trial]. And he rode the second lap of the time trial 23 seconds faster than the first - a good sign. I wouldn't pass up on the World Championships so quickly."
Lefevere also looked to place Evenepoel’s performance in Tokyo in the context of his rider’s lengthy rehabilitation and his previous displays against those opponents.
"You have to look at it soberly. At the 2019 Worlds, Remco finished second, 1:09 behind Rohan Dennis. Now he finishes 1:13 behind Dennis. That's similar," Lefevere said.
"Don't forget: six months ago he was still rehabilitating in the swimming pool. It may have gone a bit too fast, but I'm certainly not looking for excuses and Remco knows that too."
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