Patrick Lefevere says Vuelta a España suits Evenepoel but doesn't want him given favourite status

The young Belgian abandoned the Giro d'Italia in 2021 after 18 stages

Remco Evenepoel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Patrick Lefevere has said that the route for the 2022 Vuelta a España could suit Remco Evenepoel, but he doesn't want the young Belgian treated as a favourite for the race.

The Vuelta route for 2022 was announced on Thursday, December 16 with various towering mountain top finishes, one individual time trial as well as a team time trial and a start in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Evenepoel made his Grand Tour debut in 2021 at the Giro d'Italia where he in contention on the general classification for a long time, before fading and eventually abandoning on stage 18. 

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However, this was his first race back after his horrendous crash at Il Lombardia the year before, where he fell into a ravine and fractured his pelvis, among other injuries.

Speaking in a piece by Sporza, Deceuninck - Quick-Step boss, Lefevere said: "The course should indeed suit him. We have seen in the Giro - despite his lesser preparation - that he has the talent to ride Grand Tours. If he starts in Spain with normal preparation, I still see opportunities in a few stages.

"But I absolutely do not want to assign him a favourite role. It still remains to be seen how he will react to a three-week stage race. The three finishes above 2,000 meters are also relatively new for him."

The team time trial has historically suited the powerful Deceuninck - Quick-Step squad, but the individual test against the clock between Elche and Alicante on stage 11 may be too flat for Evenepoel.

"In the team time trial we could indeed achieve a good result. The individual time trial lacks a few altimeters to fully please Remco," added Lefevere. 

The 21-year-old has been racking up the wins since he turned professional in 2019 seeing him now have a total of 22 victories including overall titles at the Tour of Poland and the Volta ao Algarve.

Another race that Evenepoel has previously won is the Argentinian race of the Vuelta a San Juan, which he is set to be riding in January of 2022. This is where Lefevere will decide his calendar.

"We will make the decision in January. We will first look at the first part of the season. For example, Remco will probably start his year in Argentina. He has good memories there and gets the necessary time to prepare."

Evenepoel is even staying for an extra week at the team training camp in Spain as the rest of the squad head home, as part of his preparation. 

"He will stay here until the 23rd while the rest will pack all their bags today," continued Lefevere.

"I sat down with him yesterday and talked to him. He feels good, you can see that in training. His training schedule is finished nicely."

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