Remco Evenepoel on life before cycling: 'Football broke me a bit mentally'

The Belgian played football at a high level up until the age of 17 when he switched to cycling

Remco Evenepoel (Getty)

Remco Evenepoel has been keeping himself busy during lockdown, setting himself weekly cycling challenges he then shares with fans via social media.

First up was a 300km ride, with the young Belgian then wishing to climb the Kapelmuur, which features in the Tour of Flanders, before cancelling the challenge due to concerns people would turn up at the roadside to spectate.

Instead, Evenepoel toured around various places from his childhood, including the training ground of Anderlecht football club, where he spent a decade of his life working his way up through the youth system.

"I spent 11 years here. To be honest, the last few years were the toughest. They broke me a bit mentally," Evenepoel said.

>>> ‘I want to ride in the WorldTour’: How British Cycling are using Zwift to help identify young talent

"But when I look back on it now, it has made me stronger as a person and in life. Thanks for trying to break me. Frankly, I am more proud to wear this jersey [Deceuninck - Quick-Step], And now I have more fun."

Evenepoel represented both PSV Eindhoven and Anderlecht as a youth footballer, also being selected for the Belgian national youth teams, before suddenly making the switch to cycling in early 2017. 18 months later he was junior world champion on the road and in the time trial.

The 20-year-old also rode past the city of Namur, where his father won the Grand Prix de Wallonie in 1993, with Evenepoel saying it would be a dream to one day win that race.

Before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the cycling season, the Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider was set to compete in his first Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia, and if the Italian stage race returns later in the year he will still make it a priority of his season, as well as the time trial at the world championships.

"If the Worlds programme stays unchanged, then the time trial will take place on the final weekend of the Tour de France, and the rainbow jersey is clearly a major objective," Evenepoel told La Dernière Heure as to whether he had changed his mind and considered riding the Tour de France in 2020.

"I also believe that the Giro, in its revised version, will start with a time trial, which could give me some interesting possibilities."

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1