New world champion Remco Evenepoel has received a hero's welcome upon his arrival back in Belgium on Tuesday, ahead of official festivities planned in the country's capital, Brussels, this Sunday. He is also due to debut his rainbow jersey at the Binche-Chimay-Binche one-day race next Tuesday.
It will all take place against the background of an apparent bid for Evenepoel by Ineos Grenadiers, with Sir Dave Brailsford apparently sending Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere a text message saying, "Do you want to sell him?", according to VeloNews. Lefevere said he hadn't been entirely sure whether Brailsford was joking: "It's hard to tell on WhatsApp… there was no smiley after it," he told the US-owned outlet. Evenepoel is contracted to Quick Step until 2026, having signed a five-year extension with the Belgian team only recently.
Huge crowds were waiting for Evenepoel and the Belgian road team when they landed in Brussels, with pictures showing the 22-year-old with his new gold medal hanging around his neck. Among those waiting for him at arrivals were his parents and fiancée Oumi, whom he is set to marry next Friday (October 7).
Having greeted fans and posed for numerous selfies, Evenepoel's thoughts turned to his imminent nuptials, saying: "I have to go and choose my wedding suit with my mum," reported Belgian outlet Het Nieuwsblad.
Sunday's celebrations will take place at the ornate Grand Place in Brussels, where the newly married Quick Step rider will be met by the city's mayor before being ushered onto a balcony to wave to thronging fans, before making a short speech. There is also a planned cycle ride into the capital, although Evenepoel will be arriving on four wheels, not two.
Evenepoel's appearance at Binche-Chimay-Binche is likely to be his last of the season. It's a 198km outing that is prime Classics strongman territory, though to see Evenepoel do anything but enjoy showing off his new jersey would be a surprise.
His busy schedule continues two days later with a return to his football roots and a pitchside appearance at his old club Anderlecht, when they play London team West Ham in the Europa Conference League.
All that remains after that is to exchange vows and say 'I do'.
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