Remco Evenepoel has been cleared to resume training after his recovery from a pelvis fracture was struck by complications.
The 21-year-old Belgian initially appeared to be making a rapid recovery from his crash at Il Lombardia last August, but it was revealed at the Deceuninck-QuickStep pre-season presentation in January that he'd been forced to take a step back in mid-December and stop on-bike training due to pain and the slow healing of his hip fracture.
Nearly a month on, the team issued a statement on Monday to confirm that their young star is able to get back on his bike after being limited to swimming and gym work in recent weeks.
"I am obviously really happy that I can get back on my bike and ride again," Evenepoel said.
"For now, I have to take it step by step and depending on my progress we can decide my future program, but the main thing is I am making progress."
It remains to be seen whether Evenepoel will be able to target the Giro d’Italia in May as planned. While he and his team celebrated Monday’s news, both preached caution and stopped short of outlining further time frames and race goals.
“We will have to proceed with caution and it will still be a long road to him being on the start line of a race, but it is now going in the right direction”, said team doctor Phil Jansen.
“The recovery process from a crash of the magnitude that Remco had will always have some ups and downs. In the beginning it was all very positive and healing very quickly but then we had a slowing of the process. While this was nothing too severe, we had to pause, and we are now happy that Remco can continue training and build towards the start of his season.”
Evenepoel fractured his pelvis when he fell into a ravine at Il Lombardia last August. The crash took place during the build-up to last year’s Giro, where he was touted as a favourite for what would have been his first Grand Tour after winning four stage races in 2020. He made fast progress in the gym and was back on his bike riding outdoors in early October.
In early December, however, he was told by doctors to stop riding.
"Apparently the growth of the bone did not go as fast as everyone thought. He was in pain, but he did not say that,” team manager Patrick Lefevere later said. “He thought that it was part of the rehabilitation. In the hospital in Herentals we have seen that it [the pelvis bone] is not yet 100 per cent.”
Lefevere did point out that the planned review on February 8 would leave exactly three months until the start of the Giro in Turin, suggesting that his rider would be on track to make his much-anticipated Grand Tour debut. Evenepoel is also targeting the Olympic Games in Tokyo in late July.
Following the news of his setback, Evenepoel did set out a ‘Plan A’ and a ‘Plan B’ – the former being to target the Giro at full strength, the latter being to target the Olympics, Vuelta a España, World Championships, and Il Lombardia.
"Now I have to adjust myself and give it time to heal 100 per cent. If it takes a day longer, then so be it,” he said.”
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