By Jonny Long
Remco Evenepoel has decided to not receive a Covid-19 vaccine prior to the Giro d'Italia in case any side effects harm his preparation for the first race back since his Il Lombardia crash.
The 21-year-old would have had the option to get vaccinated next week, as part of the 170 Olympic and Paralympic Belgian athletes being offered a Pfizer or Moderna jab ahead of this summer's Games, but will instead opt to receive it after completing the Italian Grand Tour.
"I highly recommend it to all our riders, but for Remco it is just bad timing," Deceuninck - Quick-Step doctor Philip Jansen told Het Laatste Nieuws. "In view of the Olympics, we will certainly have it done, but not a week and a half before the Giro. It's just too close, especially after everything that has already gone wrong."
Evenepoel won't race in the build-up to the Giro d'Italia, or even recon a single stage, as he looks to improve his condition as much as possible before the start in Turin on May 8. Having already ruled himself out of contention for the maglia rosa, having been one of the pre-race favourites for the 2020 editions before his season was cut short, Evenepoel will focus on the Olympic Games as his main goal for the year.
While the Belgian will receive a vaccination between the end of the Giro and the Olympic Games, medical tests have revealed Evenepoel has a large number of coronavirus antibodies already, suggesting he had an asoymptomatic Covid-19 infection at some point in the past year.
"Remco already has a high number of antibodies in his body. He already had those last year and they have remained sky-high," Jansen explained.
"It is not clear to us exactly when [these antibodies began to appear]. He has never been ill. There's also no-one in his direct circle who contracted an infection. But we do see antibodies appear more often in people who have experienced the virus asymptomatically."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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