Patrick Lefevere aware of Remco Evenepoel's illness at Dauphine: "We feared a Giro scenario"

Remco Evenepoel is currently ill and will skip the Belgian national championships as a result, but he was also under the weather earlier this month at the Criterium du Dauphiné. Patrick Lefevere tells that the team feared another badly-timed Covid-19 positive.

"In the meantime, I can reveal something: Remco also did not feel one hundred percent physically in the Dauphiné. He had a sore throat, to the extent that we feared a Giro scenario," the manager of Soudal - Quick-Step said in his weekly Het Nieuwsblad column. "He also looked tired after that first mountain stage, a bit like after the time trial in the Giro. He has been tested many times, but fortunately always negative."

Evenepoel rode to a strong victory in the race's hilly time-trial but was not at the same level when it came to the mountains. A controlled race without going above the limit at any time, but the Belgian simply did not have the pace of the riders ahead and descended to seventh in the overall classification. With several weeks left to the Tour and an altitude training camp still ahead however, there wasn't too much concern for the time-trial World Champion.

"Remco is allergic to pollen and house dust mites. And I don't have to explain it to anyone here at the table," he says, before criticizing the accomodation in France: "Hotels where you are not allowed to look under your bed or you will not sleep anymore. If you drop your suitcase, the dust will fly up." However, Lefevere also believes that weight continues to be a small problem within the team:

"Remco has the disadvantage that you can see that immediately in his face. That's about one kilo, but uphill that plays a role of course," he says. "Weight has become so crucial, even in the spring. In April, after the spring, we had a big evaluation meeting with everyone from the staff present. Nobody dares to talk about it then, but I was the last to say: I think that, that and that were too heavy. True or not?' I then hear: 'Two kilos, two kilos and four kilos'. You see, the old man can still see it. Who was it about? I won't say. Sometimes cycling is not difficult of course. Our doctor Yvan Vanmol has been saying that his entire career: fat doesn't ride fast."

He also brought up the question of possibly taking the in-form Tim Merlier to the Tour, after he won three stages at the Giro d'Italia and recently beat Jasper Philipsen twice at the Baloise Belgium Tour. This Sunday's road race in Belgium could prove decisive for the selection, but Lefevere is in favour of having a stage hunter in the team.

"That is the trend with [overall] classification teams. No one is taking a sprinter anymore. I talked about it within the team this morning. I understand the logic of going all out for the classification, but that is against my nature," he says. "If we haven't won a stage in the first week of the Tour, I will be annoyed. And I will say it quickly myself: even more annoying than usual."

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