Philippe Gilbert thought Remco Evenepoel was ‘arrogant’ at first and didn’t take him seriously

But the Belgian veteran said it only took a few hours to change his mind

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Philippe Gilbert said he thought Remco Evenepoel was “arrogant” and didn’t take him seriously on first meeting him, but quickly change his mind about the prodigy.

Veteran pro Gilbert, the winner of five Monuments, has since taken the young Belgian under his wing during Evenepoel’s first season at WorldTour level.

But the 37-year-old Gilbert said he wasn’t always so sure about his compatriot and Deceuninck - Quick-Step team-mate.

In an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws (opens in new tab), Gilbert said: “In the beginning I didn’t take him too seriously. He said things before the race and I thought ‘Hey boy, what are you saying? Calm down a bit.’

“He would attack and ‘arrogant’ I thought until a few hours later, he just turned it into practice. Impressive.”

Along with his slew of outstanding results, Evenepoel’s team spirit has also impressed Gilbert, particularly in the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships where Evenepoel rode in support of the older rider who had crashed.

Gilbert, who is leaving Deceuninck - Quick-Step for Lotto-Soudal next season, said: “The youngest of the gang was class, which grabbed me. It’s proof of his potential.

“He thinks and acts tactically. What he did in Yorkshire was super professional.”

In his first year at the highest level, 19-year-old Evenepoel made a huge impression after stepping up from the junior tier.

He took his first pro win at the Belgium Tour, taking a stage and the overall, before he won Clásica San Sebastian with a hugely impressive ride, then following up with victory in European Time Trial Championships.

But perhaps his most impressive result was a second place finish in the World Championships time trial, finishing behind double winner Rohan Dennis.

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Gilbert said: “He is already one of the world’s top time trailers and in the middle mountains.

“I will be amazed to see how he rides against the Colombian climbing wonders.

“I think they are the only ones who can hurt him there. Bernal in particular is phenomenal in that area.”

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Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.