Who can achieve the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double? Remco Evenepoel backs Tadej Pogačar


Remco Evenepoel is returning to form after a serious crash in the Itzulia Basque Country in early April. The crash, which also involved defending Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard and race leader Primož Roglič, resulted in Evenepoel breaking his collarbone and scapula. After surgery, he was back on the home trainer two weeks later and on the road after three weeks. A month post-crash, he resumed altitude training.

Despite his limited time off the bike, Evenepoel admitted that the initial days of recovery were challenging. “The first days in Sierra Nevada, it was still a bit stiff descending,” he recalled. “Not feeling super comfortable on the bike, but I think every day it got better and better.”

The injuries, especially on the time trial (TT) bike, still pose challenges. “It’s still a bit strange in the scapula sometimes, especially on a TT bike when there’s a lot of pressure coming onto my shoulder,” he said. However, he feels fit enough to race and take risks again. “If my body wouldn’t have been good enough to race I would not have been at the start.”

Expectations for the Dauphiné

On the eve of his debut in the Critérium du Dauphiné, Evenepoel is tempering his expectations. The Belgian champion, recovering from his injuries, aims to support his teammates Mikel Landa and Ilan van Wilder in the eight-day WorldTour race. “I think we have two guys in good shape here with Ilan and Landa, and if I have the chance I will try to support them as much as possible. But for myself, there are no big expectations; just get into the rhythm again,” Evenepoel stated.

Evenepoel hopes the race will improve his fitness. “The main goal is to try to get out of this race in better shape than I will go into it – then it will be a successful week for me,” he said during a virtual press conference.

One of his primary aims for the Dauphiné is the 34.4km individual time trial on stage 4. “I think it’s going to be an important one to see how the pressure on the shoulder feels – to see if I can handle the pressure for a long time. I think it’s going to be a good test.”

Looking Ahead to the Tour de France

Evenepoel is eyeing his debut in the Tour de France. Reflecting on the recent Giro d’Italia, he acknowledged Tadej Pogačar’s dominant performance. Pogačar won the Giro with a significant lead and claimed six stage victories. Evenepoel believes Pogačar has a strong chance of becoming the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win both the Giro and the Tour in the same year.

“If you see how Tadej was racing in a very impressive way in the Giro, I think they have the men to beat and they are the team to beat,” Evenepoel remarked. “Next to that is Jonas, of course, because Jonas is the back-to-back Tour de France champion.”

Evenepoel appreciates the lack of pressure on his own team. “There’s no big pressure for myself and for my team. I think all the pressure is on the other teams. We will have to try to follow – I think if you can follow Tadej one day, it’s going to be like a victory.”

The Belgian rider is cautious not to repeat past mistakes. After rushing his recovery following a crash in the 2020 edition of Il Lombardia, he is taking a more measured approach this time. “I really needed the recovery time – the day I started outside is really the first day that I felt ready for it,” Evenepoel said.

Reflecting on the aftermath of his recent crash, he noted, “The impact of the crash with high speed and quite a long slide over the grass had quite a big impact on my body.” The experience has made him more mindful of his recovery process. “I want to calm things down and really never skip any step.”

Evenepoel believes this approach will benefit his performance in the Tour de France. “There’s still a long way till the end of the Tour. That’s why we didn’t rush anything with the bigger goal in mind – and always paying attention to not get in extreme fatigue or rush myself too much.”

Photo credits: Getty

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