James Knox says he and his Deceuninck – Quick-Step team are “doing our best to go on as normal” one week after Fabio Jakobsen’s crash at the Tour of Poland.
The 24-year-old Brit was part of the squad in Poland when Jakobsen crashed and was placed in an induced coma due to the severity of his injuries.
“Of course it’s a very difficult time. I think we’re just doing our best to go on as normal,” Knox says. “And for the moment, Fabio’s recovery is going well or is as good as we could hope for. So in a sense, we still keep chugging away,” he said in France.
Knox is in his third year as a pro and was looking towards another step forward in his development as a Grand Tour rider. But then coronavirus happened.
“It was pretty tough,” Knox says of lockdown. “No motivation, no races coming up. I was kind of like [expecting the] worst-case scenario. I didn’t think we’d be back racing this season. I think we’re doing very well to be back racing, obviously with restrictions and everything.”
Originally, Knox had planned to ride the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, when the two races were months apart.
Now, the races overlap and the plan at the moment is for him to return to Italy for his second appearance at the Giro.
His debut Grand Tour was categorised by the Brit battling through injury for eight stages before finally succumbing on stage 13, not taking the start line. He later bounced back at the Vuelta in some style, finishing 11th and announcing himself as the latest British Grand Tour talent.
While last year Knox had a free role to explore his potential in three-week stage races, this year the Deceuninck – Quick-Step destined for Italy includes young Belgian superstar Remco Evenepoel.
The 20-year-old has won every stage race he’s entered in 2020, but is yet to test himself at Grand Tour. The Giro will be his debut and a time trial on the opening stage could also see Evenepoel wear the maglia rosa for the first time.
Is the plan going into the race for Knox to work for Evenepoel? Or will he be afforded the freedom to ride for himself once more?
“We’ll see how it goes,” Knox replies. “Obviously he’s had an exceptional start to the season four out of four victories on GC. Certainly, he’s a fantastic rider.”
For now, Knox will just be looking to get the racing kilometres back into his legs at the Dauphiné. But come October, he will hope to once again show he is the next generation of British Grand Tour talent.