Deceuninck-QuickStep's Remco Evenepoel to target one-week stage races ahead of Vuelta bid in 2022 - Patrick Lefevere
Evenepoel endured a mixed Grand Tour debut at the 2021 Giro D'Italia, looking a touch apprehensive while still making his way back from a major crash at the 2020 Il Lombardia. Lefevere ruled out the Belgian riding both of the Grand Tours in Italy and Spain and hopes that the talented Evenepoel can translate impressive shorter stage-race form into week-long victories.
Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Deceuninck-Quick-Step team looks on at the end of the race during the 115th Il Lombardia 2021 a 239km race from Como to Bergamo on October 09, 2021 in Como, Italy.
Remco Evenepoel is set to ride the Vuelta a Espana and target one-week stage races in 2022.
The tremendously talented Belgian endured an up-and-down season, with a mixed Grand Tour debut at the 2021 Giro d'Italia and questions from prominent ex-cyclists over his role in Belgium's failure to win gold in the Olympic road race.
However the 21-year-old continued to produce impressive performances in smaller stage races and classics, winning the Tour of Denmark, Baloise Belgium Tour, Brussels Cycling Classic and Coppa Bernocchi.
Deceuninck-QuickStep hope that he can next translate that form into contention at some of the World Tour's most prestigious week-long stage races in the spring and early summer in 2022 before potentially targeting the Vuelta later in the year.
“We want him to be able to win a tough stage race first, such as Tirreno-Adriatico, the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse,” chief executive Patrick Lefevere told La Dernière Heure.
Only then will we field him again in a three-week competition. The idea is that he will ride the Vuelta a España instead of the Giro d'Italia.
Evenepoel struggled for his best form after making his return from a long injury lay-off at the Giro, looking short of confidence and racing legs as he abandoned in the final week.
The starlet had crashed heavily at the 2020 edition of Il Lombardia and made his return to racing at the year's first Grand Tour.
Lefevere believes that it would be too much to ask of Evenepoel to ride both the Giro and the Vuelta so early in his career.
'He's on another planet!' - Evenepoel storms to Coppa Bernocchi victory
“It would be a mistake to let him compete in both Italy and Spain next year,” Lefevere explained.
Remco will only be 22 years old: one Grand Tour in one year is enough for him.
Deceuninck-QuickStep this week re-signed James Knox, a potentially key domestique with climbing legs as the Belgian team look to develop their strategy as potential general classification contenders behind Evenepoel's multi-faceted prowess.
Joao Almeida will join UAE Team Emirates ahead of the 2022 season, while Fausto Masnada, second in the year's final monument at Il Lombardia, is yet to re-sign with the Belgian team.