Remco Evenepoel is unlikely to return to the Giro d’Italia in 2022, after making a rollercoaster Grand Tour debut at the Italian race in May, with the focus expected to turn to a Vuelta a España start next season instead.
Deceuninck-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere said in a report in Belgian newspaper, La Dernière Heure, that in the first part of the season shorter stage races would be the target.
“We want him to be able to win a tough stage race first, such as Tirreno-Adriatico, the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse,” Lefevere told La Dernière Heure. “Only then will we field him again in a three-week competition. The idea is that he will drive the Vuelta a España instead of the Giro d'Italia.”
Evenepoel’s start at his first Grand Tour this year came after the rider had been out of the sport for eight months, recovering from a fractured pelvis after crashing at the 2020 Il Lombardia. The 21 year old made it as high as second overall in the first half of the Giro d'Italia, climbing up the rankings by being one of the only riders who could stick with eventual winner Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) on the stage 6 summit finish at San Giacomo.
He continued to look strong with a fourth place finish at Campo Felice on stage 9 but by the time the rider hit the Montalcino on stage 11 he started going backwards. After ceding more time on the Zoncolan he then lost all hope of a high overall position during the cold and wet stage 16 to Cortina d'Ampezzo, when he lost 24 minutes. He left the race after stage 17, having pushed through to the finish line that day after crashing on the Passo San Valentino.
Returning to the race next season to try and finish off what he started, and consequently taking on two Grand Tour starts in a season, wasn’t an option that his team manager thought wise for the rider, who will turn 22 in January of next year.
“It would be a mistake to let him compete in both Italy and Spain next year,” Lefevere told La Dernière Heur. “Remco is then only 22 years old: a Grand Tour in one year is enough for him."
Evenepoel brought his 2021 road season – which delivered eight wins – to an end this month with a fifth in the Chrono des Nations after managing to push through the memories of 2020 at Il Lombardia, finishing 19th, after suffering on the key late climb of the Passo di Ganda. He started October with victory at the Coppa Bernocchi, having delivered second in the European Championships road race in September and third in both the European Championships and World Championships time trials.
Evenepoel is expected to start the 2022 season at the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional in Argentina, which he won in 2020, with the eight stage race starting on 23 January.
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