Remco Evenepoel is aiming to begin his 2021 season “as soon as possible” as he plans his return to racing after fracturing his pelvis in a heavy crash at Il Lombardia in August.
In a video call with the Belgian press on Monday afternoon, Evenepoel said that he had intended to begin his comeback at the Tour Down Under, but he suggested that his first race of 2021 might now be the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February.
“The plan was to resume in Australia, but unfortunately those races have been cancelled,” Evenepoel said, as reported by Wielerflits, Het Laatste Nieuws and Het Nieuwsblad. “So it will probably not be until February. Perhaps the Tour of Valencia? Actually, it doesn't really matter to me, but my appetite to race is great. The first Grand Tour isn’t until May, so we still have plenty of time. First, I have to sweat the 'rust' out of my body."
“The Olympic Games are on my programme, but above all, I want to ride one of the Grand Tours. I’m impatient to make my debut there. It doesn’t matter which one, but I want to ride one of them.”
Another Grand Tour debutant, João Almeida, led Deceuninck-QuickStep at this year's Giro in Evenepoel's absence, and the Portuguese rider spent 15 days in the maglia rosa before placing fourth overall in Milan.
Evenepoel is currently in Calpe, having travelled to Spain a week ago to train in warm weather. The 20-year-old was bullish when asked if his work was tailored toward rehabilitating from injury or preparing for races.
“Races: my head is fully focused on the 2021 season,” said Evenepoel, who revealed that he had trained for 26 hours and covered 736 kilometres in his first seven days of training in Calpe. He also told reporters that he had lost around 5 kilograms during his time off the bike.
“I only weigh 59 to 60kg now, so I can hardly compare my wattages and values with last year, but if you weigh less, you have to push fewer watts to go as fast as you can,” said Evenepoel. “The muscle mass I lost in the beginning is back, but the baby fat is completely gone. When I look at my upper body, I am skin and bones.
“I always paid attention to my diet. I knew that every kilogram I gained was one kilogram too many to reach the top again. It's certainly not that I have anorexia, but it's my new lifestyle. I recognised even more the importance of a healthy diet.”
Evenepoel declared his recovery from injury to have gone “better than expected”, though he admitted that he could still feel some lingering effects of his crash off the bike.
“The inside of my right leg is still a little sensitive near the public bone, that takes time to heal. But that doesn’t affect me when I’m riding the bike, just when I’m sitting in a chair or something like that,” said Evenepoel, who downplayed the idea that he would be a nervous descender after his crash on the Sormano in August.
“Shortly after my fall, I was watching the Tour in bed and I saw Marc Hirschi riding super crazy descents. If I was still scared, I would have looked away for a while, but I didn't.”
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