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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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.