Remco Evenepoel: You can’t prepare fully without racing, but that’s the risk we took

Belgian star is among the favourites to win the 2021 Giro d’Italia, having not raced for nine months

Remco Evenepoel
(Image credit: (Photo by Sara Cavallini/Getty Images))

Remco Evenepoel says you can’t prepare fully for the Giro d’Italia without racing, as he enters his debut Grand Tour as one of the favourites.

The 21-year-old, racing for Deceuninck - Quick-Step, hasn’t competed for nine months, after he suffered serious injuries in the 2020 Il Lombardia, falling off a bridge into a ravine. 

As he returns to the peloton in Italy this weekend, Evenepoel admits that he doesn’t expect to be at 100 per cent, having not been able to race to prepare for his first ever three-week race.

>>> Confirmed Giro d’Italia 2021 start list: Simon Yates, Egan Bernal and Hugh Carthy are all set to fight for pink  (opens in new tab)

Speaking to media via Zoom call ahead of the race, Evenepoel said: “I don’t think you can prepare 100 per cent for a race without racing, but that is the risk that we took.

“I’m just happy to be at the start finally almost 10 months after the crash, so it’s almost a year without racing.

“My goal here is just to feel well in the bunch again and have fun with the guys, because I’ve missed racing. 

“Thinking about those early mountain top finishes is not the thing that I’m worrying about for now.”

Evenepoel, a revelation since he joined the peloton in 2019, already has a collection of prestigious wins to his name, having won all four stage races he entered in 2020. 

But his season was derailed when he hit the low wall of a bridge while descending in Il Lombardia last August, suffering a broken pelvis in the fall.

The crash forced the Belgian to delay his debut Grand Tour, as he was scheduled to race the Giro last season.

Now Evenepoel will return to racing in Turin on Saturday (May 8) after a number of delays to his recovery. 

Despite his lack of racing, Evenepoel is still the bookmakers third favourite to win the race overall, behind Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). 

He said: “It’s my first race after the big crash so I don’t know how the body will react. I have no pressure.

“The main goal of the season is the Olympics and I’ve always said that. 

“It has been too long so I can’t say I’m better than last year or I’m feeling more confidence, so we’ll see day-by-day.” 

Deceuninck also have rising Portuguese star João Almeida lining up in the Giro, after he led the race for two weeks in 2020.  

>>> How to watch the Giro d’Italia 2021: Live stream the first Grand Tour of the season 

Almeida said: “I’m never very confident before big races, but I’m confident of the work I did and my training and preparation, so I think we can be confident enough.” 

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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.