Remco Evenepoel has over the past few years grew exponentially inside the peloton, and some over this period of time have accused him of being somewhat of a disrespectful rider regarding the more experienced riders and older generations. Thomas de Gendt has talked about that topic, denying that to be the case.
In a column for RIDE Magazine, the Belgian veteran said that “I like Remco Evenepoel. We speak regularly in the peloton. He spontaneously comes to say hello, a pat on the buttock, now and then a joke, he shows respect for the slightly older guard." Following his recent success this season and at the World Championships, the spotlight is on the Quick-Step rider with full force.
7 W52-FC Porto riders get doping bans, former Volta a Portugal winner João Rodrigues banned for 7 years
However he has for years had intense media coverage, which as a consequence led to a lot of pressure, insinuations, as it seemed the young rider was on the radar 24/7. This year it would appear he's been media trained, and has despite his success not been involved in controversies - whereas in the past he's been countless times been dragged into them.
“It's not nothing, a Belgian who wins another Grand Tour," de Gendt aknowledges. "Unlike in the Netherlands, where the classification riders seem to grow on trees. But admit it, for a cycling country that is Belgium, that was inevitable. We've had to wait long enough for it. And I admit, even though I am a competitor of Remco, I secretly supported.”
De Gendt himself had a similar experience, winning the queen stage and finishing third at the 2012 Giro d'Italia: “Personally, ten years ago, during the Giro d'Italia, which I finished third, I liked to experience all the media attention for once. But I'll be honest: Remco can have it, all that stress and media hassle."
"I hope he is mentally strong enough to withstand all that. On the other hand, the pressure cannot be increased much more for him. His career has been successful, which he still achieves. The Remco mania is allowed," he concluded. Evenepoel is set to race for the first time in his new equipment in the upcoming Binche - Chimay - Binche.