The Giro d’Italia 2021 was Remco Evenepoel’s first real defeat, according to his team boss Patrick Lefevere.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step’s rising star Evenepoel went into this year’s Giro as one of the pre-race favourites, despite not having raced for nine months due to the serious injuries he suffered in a crash at Il Lombardia 2020.
After flying high in the first week, the 21-year-old began to lose time in the second week before he was forced to abandon the race after he was caught in a crash on stage 17.
In an interview with Italian website Bici.Focus, Deceuninck manager Patrick Lefevere said: “It is a fact, however, that that boy had never lost . He won everything as a junior and his first two years as a professional were also full of victories.
“This Giro was his first defeat.”
Evenepoel made his WorldTour debut with Belgian squad Deceuninck - Quick-Step in 2019, having dominated the junior ranks.
In his first season at the highest level, Evenepoel won five times, including the Belgium Tour overall, the Clásica San Sebastian and the European Time Trial Championships.
Then into 2020, the Belgian star won all four stage races he entered, before he crashed out of Il Lombardia, which forced him to sit out the rest of the season.
Evenepoel made his comeback at the 2021 Giro, starting with a top-10 finish in the opening time trial and jumping into second place after stage six.
But after losing time on the brutal gravel stage to Montalcino on stage 11, Evenepoel continued to slip down the leaderboard, eventually losing an hour before he was forced to retire from the race.
Lefevere said: “Of course we had hoped for the best, but I never said he would win the Giro . We went along with his wishes, but I'm not that crazy. We knew that the Montalcino stage, after the Lombardy accident, would be a key step . Remco could not start the Giro in a normal way.
“We cannot judge him by what we have seen.”
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