Remco Evenepoel will need a further three weeks off the bike to help his pelvis fracture heal completely, giving the talented young Belgian rider just three months to prepare for his planned Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia.
Evenepoel fractured his pelvis when he went over a bridge into a ravine at Il Lombardia last August. He appeared to have recovered quickly and was back training outdoors in November and December. However, he was still in pain and team doctors advised him to stop training in mid-December, putting a halt to his comeback.
Evenepoel revealed his problems at last week’s Deceunick-QuickStep media day. He was hoping to return to training this week but a scan in Belgium on Monday convinced the team’s medical staff to delay his return.
He recently spent time at the Deceuninck-QuickStep training camp in Spain but spent time doing rehabilitation in the gym and cardio workouts in the pool instead of joining his teammates for long rides.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed Evenepoel would be off the bike for a further three weeks.
"We are not going to make the same mistake again, Lefevere said during the Sporza De Tribune podcast on Monday evening.
"Apparently the growth of the bone did not go as fast as everyone thought. He was in pain, but he did not say that. 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 percent.
"We hoped that he would cycle again from tomorrow [Tuesday] but we are not taking any more risks. So he will probably stay off the bike for another 3 weeks. That’ll take us to February 8, exactly three months before the start of the Giro."
Evenepoel, who turns 21 on January 25, was bullish about his recovery last week, insisting he had time to find form for the Giro d’Italia. However, he was more reflective later in the week during interviews to launch his latest range of casual clothing.
He is hoping to ride the time trial and road race at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer but riding the Tour de France is an unlikely Plan B, with the Vuelta a España a more likely option.
"If I have learned one thing, it is that these injuries are very delicate for a cyclist," Evenepoel told Het Laatste Nieuws last week, admitting he had thought the pain in his pelvis was part of his recovery process and so had not told the team doctors of his suffering.
"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. It won't make any difference. Of course I dream of the Giro and I’m aiming for that start date: May 8. That’s Plan A, that's what we're going for but it comes soon and things don't work out then it’ll be a great pity but I am only 20. And so I can ride the Giro a lot more times in my life.
"I’ve been in a hospital bed for eight weeks. Add the five weeks without cycling and you end up with more than three months without physical activity. That's a lot for a top athlete. My body must be given the necessary time to be in top shape again. In a 'worst case scenario' we switch to Plan B: Olympic Games, Vuelta, World Championships and Il lombardia. There are plenty of other goals this season."
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