The decision as to which Grand Tour Remco Evenepoel would focus on in 2023 was for some a big questions, however inside Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team it was actually an easy decision, sources from within the team confirm, as the Belgian gears up towards the Giro d'Italia.
“The Giro remains the best possible step," Koen Pelgrim - one of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team's coaches - told Het Nieuwsblad. "The Giro was always the original idea. After the victory in the Vuelta a España, we thought for a while whether that plan was still up-to-date, but the decision was made fairly quickly."
As of the writing of this article, a CyclingUpToDate poll has shown that 46% of the 54 votes pointed towards Evenepoel to ride the Tour de France instead of the Giro d'Italia in 2023. The main argument behind this idea would be because of his newly-acquired rainbow jersey, and the impact he would have in his first tilt at the Grand Boucle. This despite the heavy hints for several months that Evenepoel was to ride the Giro and the route revealing heavily favoured the Italian race.
“When the routes were announced, it quickly became clear that the Giro Remco had to be the best," Pelgrim continued. "In the Giro you have three time trials, about 70 kilometers in all. That gives an advantage compared to the Tour, where you only have one time trial, which is then half a climb time trial.”
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Despite a successful Vuelta a Espana run, Pelgrim is aware there are things that can be improved. He's keen on helping Evenepoel achieve his best form throughout the race and has good knowledge on the details behind the scenes specially taking into consideration the experience gathered during this season.
“We will of course take the things that worked well for the Vuelta into the preparation for the Giro. We now know that Remco doesn't necessarily need many races to be in shape and we know that high altitude training sessions work well," he continued.
“We didn't want to skip a step with Remco," Patrick Lefevere said. "We stick to the 'cautious' build-up Vuelta, Giro, Tour. Remco has shown that he has the level, but will not run into the expectations that come with the Tour. And we also give ourselves some time to grow in the races. The young guys who did so well in the Vuelta can gain experience in the Giro.”
For Quick-Step it was a clear choice. A route that is much more favourable, less media pressure and a constant build-up were the best ways to handle such a big talent for the time being. Furthermore the Belgian team lacks the support to match the likes of Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates in the mountains, and with the likes of Julian Alaphilippe and Fabio Jakobsen also keen on performing at the Tour, a decision had to be made.
“Whether organizer RCS pays a high start prize? I wish. You hear stories of Chris Froome getting a million to ride the Giro, but I don't believe that," he admits. "ASO pays nothing anyway, but at RCS that is not huge either. The compensation is mainly accommodation: extra hotel beds during the Giro or accommodation to bridge the periods between two RCS races in Italy.”