Patrick Lefevere confident that Remco Evenepoel "can become even stronger"

Remco Evenepoel arguably was one of the most successful riders of the year, but there is faith within Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team that the Belgian can go even higher. Still 22 years old, a decade ago a rider such as Evenepoel would rarely even get to be a leader.

“Still, I think he is already very far in his development. Although I don't think a 22-year-old boy is fully grown," Patrick Lefevere told RIDE Magazine. "Physically and mentally he can become even stronger and then he will also have the experience to fall back on. Basically, if he stays healthy, he's going to get even better."

Evenepoel's development into a Grand Tour rider - and winner - was a plot that for many years fans in Belgium had hoped for, as a time-trial specialist and occasionally strong climber developed into a consistent rider with little flaws and a climbing capacity that few can match. He has shown at the Vuelta a Espana to be amongst the best Grand Tour riders in the current peloton, and that is besides his incredible capacity in the classics, which has seen him conquer the World Championships, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Clasica San Sebastian this year.

His coach, Koen Pilgrim, shared the same opinion: “Normally he still has to be able to grow, but the steps are getting smaller and smaller. Nowadays you see that young cyclists already take considerable steps between their 17th and 19th year of life through better training and nutrition at a young age. After that, the margin gets smaller.”

That is an explanation to how to the likes of Evenepoel, but for example Tadej Pogacar, Juan Ayuso and many other riders are achieving great success at such young ages, and within Quick-Step the management is already aware that a rider can be within his peak still in his under-23 years due to the access to information and training specialists from a young age.

“Nowadays cyclists are much more serious about the sport at a much younger age," Pilgrim continued. "As a result, they develop faster than the older guard. That is why these talents are now taking the big steps before they turn 20 and the growth opportunities in the years after that are smaller.”

Evenepoel is set to target the Giro d'Italia in 2023 and follow an early season schedule with several stage-races, starting with the Vuelta a San Juan which will see the return of the World Tour field in the coming season.

“Look at swimming, for example. There, most of the top players are around twenty years old and you are already old at 25 years old. In the past you only became a cyclist around the age of 22 and you achieved the best results around the age of 27/28. This was mainly due to the backlog in the field of guidance and not due to the pure, physical growth margin," the Belgian supertalent's coach concluded.

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