Remco Evenepoel’s success depends on how he handles the mental challenges of racing as a teenager in the WorldTour, says Peter Sagan.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step signed Evenepoel at 18-years-old after a junior campaign that included winning the World Championships time trial by over a minute and escaping solo at 20km out for the road title. Now 19, Evenepoel just finished his first professional race in Argentina’s Vuelta a San Juan alongside Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
“For sure, he’ll have a nice and interesting career. It also depends on how he manages it mentally if some successes come to him,” Sagan explained before the race finished on Sunday.
“I think it’s very early to speak about his future, but for sure with how he’s going now… If he manages to stay good and relaxed, he’s going to have a future, yeah.”
Evenepoel helped team-mate Julian Alaphilippe win a stage and place second overall in the Argentine stage race.
He rode well enough that he placed ninth overall and won the young rider classification. Part of that came thanks to his time trial, blazing over the course to set the top time only to be knocked off by Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) and then Alaphilippe.
“It depends, it also is different to win than being third in a time trial,” Sagan continued. “Maybe in Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico it’ll be different. But if he continues like this then he’ll be better in the season.”
Sagan began racing at the top level at 20-years-old and won two stages in Paris-Nice that 2010 season. Evenepoel skipped the under 23 ranks, going from the junior to the professional level directly.
He won all four stage races that he entered in 2018 at the junior level. The Belgian has already said that his long term goal is to win the Tour de France.
“For the future, we will see after he grows up. I don’t know now what kind of rider he is,” Sagan said.
“What happened to me, when I was 18 or 19-years-old, physically I grew up. Also maybe he will. I don’t know if he is already at the final level of his maturity. Time is going to show what he can do.”
Evenepoel left San Juan with the green jersey of best young rider and much experience.
“The pressure and expectation is not a problem for me because I really don’t care about it,” said Evenepoel.
“When you start your first week of racing without expectations and then you get a jersey and ninth in GC, I think I can be very proud of it the results.”