Remco Evenepoel only turned professional in 2019 but he has already established himself as a rider of such high value that Deceuninck-Quickstep offered him a five-year contract extension that will see him remain with the Belgian WorldTour team until the end of 2026. The only other rider with a deal that long is Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar who also signed with UAE Team Emirates for five years.
Evenepoel joins fellow Belgian stand-out Wout van Aert in securing a long-term deal. Van Aert's contract with Jumbo-Visma lasts through 2024.
"I feel really honoured to put pen to paper for the next five years," Evenepoel said in a team press release. "As Patrick told me, this is the longest agreement he has ever signed with a rider. I'm really proud and happy to stay in this wonderful team, where I have already enjoyed a lot of success, and hopefully we can reach our big dreams.
"I love it here! The environment, the staff, the riders, everything feels so familiar. For me it's just a dream, again, that comes true. That's why I feel really, really happy and excited for what the future holds."
In his final year as a junior, Evenepoel was a prolific winner, taking World, European and Belgian championship titles in the time trial and road races, the junior Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and five stage races.
After turning professional at 19 with Deceuninck-Quickstep, Evenepoel won the Baloise Belgium Tour, the European time trial title and the Clasica San Sébastian in his debut season in 2019. In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, he won the Vuelta a San Juan, Volta ao Algarve, Vuelta a Burgos and Tour de Pologne before suffering a devastating crash in Il Lombardia that has kept him out of competition since.
Evenepoel is expected to return to competition at the Giro d'Italia, his first Grand Tour, in May.
Lefevere has been in negotiations for the future of his team, with Deceuninck and Quick-Step's current deals expiring this year, and he claimed that Bora-Hansgrohe were trying to sign Evenepoel and had even suggested taking over the team. The allegation was denied by manager Ralph Denk. Earlier on Tuesday, L'Equipe suggested that Peter Sagan could leave Bora-Hansgrohe for Deceuninck-QuickStep, bringing additional support from Specialized.
The victory of Kasper Asgreen at the Tour of Flanders and the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, in addition to important wins by Sam Bennett at Paris-Nice and Brugge-De Panne, and Davide Ballerini at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will have helped Lefevere's sponsor negotiations.
In the press release, Lefevere said the unprecedented contract extension with Evenepoel was "an important step for the future, for the team".
"Everybody knows what Remco is capable of and how talented he is. As he said, he's happy, and one of my most important roles is to keep him happy and to put the right people around him. Because I know from experience, and I think I have some after a small 40 years in the sport, that happy people perform better than unhappy people. We're glad Remco continues with the Wolfpack, and as he said, we hope we'll enjoy many more great moments together."
A real wolf never leaves the pack! 🐺🤟🏼 I’m really proud and happy to stay in this wonderful team, where I have already enjoyed a lot of success, and hopefully we can reach our big dreams. I love it here! #TheWolfpackRules @deceuninck_qst pic.twitter.com/z5Tmy6zKi9April 6, 2021
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