Sadly for Remco Evenepoel, his Maglia Rosa dream has been brought to a premature end due to a positive covid test. Sporza analyst Jose de Cauwer though believes that the Belgian could now switch his attention this summer's Tour de France and mouth-watering battle with Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard.
Discussing the sad news of Evenepoel's departure with fellow Sporza analyst Karl Vannieuwkerke, the pair converse about whether or not the covid diagnosis had had an effect of Evenepoel over the past few stages. "You interpret afterwards, but if you look at Evenepoel before and after the time trial: he didn't look good," says Vannieuwkerke.
"Until they show me the proof, I don't believe it. I think it's more that Remco is afraid to face the truth" - Director of the Slovenian national team has controversial take on Giro d'Italia abandon of Remco Evenepoel
"I thought: did he comb his hair differently or something? He looked different. But now we are nitpicking," de Cauwer agrees. "I understand what you mean and everyone had seen something, but it's only afterwards that you say: ah yes."
With the world now a few years removed from the peak of covid, the pair also contemplate whether the decision of riders such as Evenepoel and Filippo Ganna to pull out due to testing positive is still the right call in 2023. "Yes, 100 percent! It is life-threatening, physically you can never be what you have been," says de Cauwer. "I recently spoke to Greg Van Avermaet and he said: it's like I've never been the same after my corona infection. It does something to you. We have to live with it, but maybe we should do it differently. I don't know."
How the Giro d'Italia GC looks after Remco Evenepoel's abandon - Geraint Thomas in pink with two riders within 5 seconds
The big question now though is will Evenepoel turn his attention to the Tour de France. A possible battle for the Yellow Jersey involving the Soudal - Quick-Step leader and the two most recent race winners, Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard is certainly an exciting prospect for fans of cycling.
"He now has to look good and then have a good conversation with the right people, such as his trainer and mental coach. And then you have to see what you can charge him for. To me, the World Championship time trial seems like something to tick off," says de Cauwer. "This may be his only chance in his career to go to the Tour without much pressure," concludes Vannieuwkerke.