Remco Evenepoel remains modest about his goals for Tour de France: "If you can follow Tadej for a day, it feels like a victory"

It was already after last year's disappointment at Vuelta a Espana, where he and everyone else got steamrolled by yellow-black train, that Remco Evenepoel set his eyes on the 2024 Tour de France as 'the' race. However Itzulia Basque Country changed the situation and forced a restart of the preparation for several Tour favourites. And the Soudal - Quick-Step 'aero-bullet' was not spared.

But two months later, Evenepoel is back in the peloton and we can only wonder what his level at Critérium du Dauphiné will be. WielerFlits tried to get a better idea of what the 24-year-old Belgian's ambitions for the eight-day World Tour stage race are and how has he recovered from his injuries.

"The injuries may not have been the most serious, but the impact on the body was still great, after such a high-speed crash. Then I went under the knife, under anesthesia for the first time, and those are all things that your body carries. My shoulder and my muscles were damaged. So I really needed the time I took. The day I started cycling outside for the first time was also the first day I was ready."

"With the experience of my crash in Lombardia, we didn't want to skip any steps this time. While at the time we may have done it too quickly," he recognizes the decision to then line up as a leader for 2023 Giro d'Italia following his pelvis fracture at Il Lombardia 2022 was a bit rushed.

"The main goal has always been and remains the Tour de France, which only starts in a month. And don't forget: the Tour doesn't end for another seven weeks. There is still a lot of time, we don't rush and we keep the bigger goal in mind. That is not the right approach for the Dauphiné, but it is for the Tour," Evenepoel suggests the form may not be there yet at the French one-week stage race.

Unlike one of his main challenges at Grande Boucle, Jonas Vingegaard, the Belgian never thought about coming into Tour de France without any racedays in the legs. "I have always wanted to race, especially because I didn't have much competition in my legs until the Itzulia Basque Country. I need this race. Only if I wasn't good enough yet, I would have changed my planning. Then I would have opted for a week of extra training and then the Tour de Suisse. So the fact that I'm standing here says a lot."

"Tadej raced impressively at the Giro, and for Tour they still have a few shadow leaders. They will be the team to beat. I put Jonas next to him. And there is no big pressure for myself and my team. We must try to follow. If you can follow Tadej for a day, it feels like a victory. Maybe he attacks on the first day, wins by five minutes and the rankings are already over. You never know with him, he is the best rider in the world. It's anyone's guess how he recovered, but I wouldn't be surprised if he wins," the Belgian champion sheds some light on how he thinks the forces distribution.

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