Remco Evenepoel falls ill ahead of Tour de France and misses Belgian national championships: "It is better that I don’t take any risks so close to the Tour de France"

Remco Evenepoel is currently in the French Alps training for the Tour de France. Although it would be expected that he remains there until making the trip for the Grand Depart, he actually intended on defending his Belgian road race national champion title. But this will not happen as he has fallen ill.

“I am upset to not be at the Belgian Championships. Winning the race last year and wearing the famous Belgian tricolour jersey has been a great honour for me and it would have been a privilege to try to defend the jersey I love so much," Evenepoel said in a press release issued by the team. "And while I am not very sick, I would not be able to race at 100% of my capabilities, which is what a race this important demands, and we think that it is better that I don’t take any risks so close to the Tour de France. I wish my teammates good luck in the race and hopefully we can keep that beautiful jersey in the team!”

Evenepoel has worn the Belgian jersey to great success over the past 12 months but it will come to an end this Sunday. He will race the Tour de France in the standard Soudal - Quick-Step jersey, making his debut in the Grand Boucle with ambitions of fighting for the overall classification. This does not leave Quick-Step fragile for the nationals however, as Tim Merlier still comes in with great form after several victories at the Baloise Belgium Tour.

“Sunday is going to be one of the best days of the year," team DS Tom Steels added. "There will be a lot of racing going on and we aim to be again among the protagonists. It goes without saying that we want to have a good outing in Belgium, where the parcours is harder than it looks. But Belgium isn’t the only country where we could get some nice results, so we are quite confident in our chances."

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