Remco Evenepoel has signalled his intentions to challenge Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal and Primož Roglič at Grand Tours in 2022 but understands patience is required to reach their level.
The Belgian, who started his season late due to his serious Il Lombardia crash last year, says he managed to return to a high level in 2021 but still expects more from himself moving forwards. Evenepoel suffered a fractured pelvis and a right lung contusion from the crash and only managed to return to competition in the 2021 Giro d'Italia.
He failed to sparkle at the Italian Grand Tour as he rode himself back into race shape, yet still managed a stage win at both the Danmark Rundt and Tour of Belgium, plus victories in the Brussels Cycling Classic and the Coppa Bernocchi, while impressing at the Flanders World Championships.
However, the all-rounder still expects more from himself.
Speaking to La Derniere Heure (opens in new tab), the 21-year-old said: "I returned to the level of the best, to an excellent level, but not yet what we wanted and hoped for with the team.
"We know that I have the possibility to be doing better but we still need a little patience. The time will come, for sure. You need to have the legs, to know how to choose the moment and spend a winter without problems.
"But I still have some steps to take before I can challenge Pogačar, Bernal, and Roglič, and above all be able to beat them. I hope it will be the case as of next season."
While the Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider has stated his ambitions ahead of next year, he realises the importance of a break is essential for him to recover before preparations for a full season - something he missed out on last year.
"I am happy to go on vacation," Evenepoel said. "It will do me a lot of good, physically and mentally. I need it because I have been working tirelessly for a year and a half – since the crash but even before that."
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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