Remco Evenepoel back in action at Tour de Suisse after COVID-19 recovery

Remco Evenepoel at the Giro d'Italia
Remco Evenepoel at the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Stuart FranklinGetty Images)

Following his COVID-19-enforced abandon from the Giro d'Italia last month, Remco Evenepoel is preparing to return to racing at the Tour de Suisse, which starts on June 11.

The Belgian has fully recovered from the virus which saw him abandon the Giro from the race lead after nine days of racing, and his first race back will be in Switzerland, where he won the closing time trial last summer.

Evenepoel's June plans will see him take on the eight-day Tour de Suisse, which includes a time trial at either end of the race, before heading home to defend his Belgian time trial title in Herzele on June 22.

He'll then tackle the road race in Izegem three days later before joining his Soudal-Quickstep teammates at a two-week altitude training camp in Val di Fassa in the Italian Dolomites, his team confirmed.

A Tour de France debut has been definitely ruled out after Evenepoel was forced out of the Giro, his main goal of the season. Instead, he'll prepare for a defence of his world title in Glasgow, with the 271km men's road race falling on the first weekend of the Road World Championships on August 6.

"It has been quite the challenge to see a pathway through the rest of my season," Evenepoel said in a statement released by his team. "We know that my main goal of this year was the Giro d'Italia and what happened was really unfortunate, so it was important to plan the right path with the team management.

"I think to begin in Suisse is the perfect start, and it allows me to revisit a race where I have good memories from my time trial win last year. Hopefully, I can take some good legs from there to the Belgian Championships, to defend my TT title and to see what I can do in the road race.

"And then I can spend some weeks at altitude in the beautiful area around Val di Fassa. I have really enjoyed training there before and it is a stunning place to visit, with the advantages that being at altitude give, and it's a great place to start looking forwards to the World Championships"

Evenepoel hasn't raced since leaving the Giro d'Italia on the eve of the first rest day on May 15. He had worn the maglia rosa early on after winning the opening time trial in Abruzzo and then reclaimed the race lead after doing the same at the 35km test against the clock in Cesena on stage 9, albeit by a smaller margin than many expected.

Later that evening, Soudal-QuickStep announced that he was out of the Giro after coming down with COVID-19. Two days later, four of his teammates would leave the race ahead of stage 11 amid a wave of positive tests in the peloton which saw only 125 riders make the finish in Rome.

Evenepoel will return to racing on the TT bike with the flat 12.7km opening time trial at the Tour de Suisse in Einsiedeln. The Tour de Suisse route then heads to the mountains for three tough stages at Villars-sur-Ollon, Leukerbad, and Le Punt before concluding with another, hillier, time trial running 25.7km from St. Gallen to Abtwil.

The week will set Evenepoel up for a tilt at retaining the Belgian time trial title four days after the conclusion of the race, though the Worlds in early August remains his big goal for the rest of the season.

He's not expected to return to Spain to defend his Vuelta a España title in August, with Soudal-QuickStep team boss Patrick Lefevere ruling it out shortly after Evenepoel's Vuelta abandon.

"He has already won the Vuelta," Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad. "Nobody would accept any other outcome from him this time. Moreover, it would again require quite heavy and very specific preparation."

Instead, Evenepoel's autumn could see him take on a series of one-day races, including the Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa in late July, the September duo of the GPs Québec and Montréal, and a season-ending trip to Italy for Il Lombardia.

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Daniel Ostanek
Senior news writer

Daniel Ostanek is Senior News Writer at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired full-time. Prior to joining the team, he had written for numerous major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.


As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also oversees The Leadout newsletter and How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal.