Remco Evenepoel has talked for the first time since abandoning the Giro d'Italia, using social media to voice his feelings a week later. He has words of gratitude, disappointment, but also criticism after having been the target of some fans who disputed his decision to abandon the Giro with Covid-19.
"...Let’s start with the positive news. After today’s check-ups and medical screenings, I got the green light to start training again and to think about new goals," Evenepoel shared in an Instagram post. "I should thank in first place my wife & parents for the support they gave me the last few days. Also my closest family members & friends really supported me a lot and well! Also people to thank: my teammates and team members of Soudal - Quick-Step."
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Evenepoel has not talked to the media since the faithful day, when he abandoned the Giro testing positive for Covid-19 hours after winning his second stage - stage 9's time-trial - and jumping into the pink jersey. It was a huge disappointment for the World Champion and turned the race upside down, with a new leader, without perhaps the biggest of favourites, and without one less team to dispute the overall classification.
"Then, my feelings after having to abandon the Giro. Definitely one of the hardest setbacks in my still very short career. Leaving the race with a COVID-19 infection was a very brutal end of what could have been a beautiful story," he continued. "6 months of full preparation for only this race. Sacrifices, long days in the rain, long periods away from home. Everything was going according plan but that is how sport goes."
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Many words of support were given at the time, but others were not. At the time many questioned his decision to leave the race before the rest day, and some such as Pier Bergonzi wrote an article for Gazzetta dello Sport on how Evenepoel 'fled' the race, giving further spotlight to such comments across social media. These comments specifically have shaken the Belgian who responds:
"Ups & downs are part of our job and I can accept that without any problem at all. What is hard to accept is all the fake and negative comments I got after having to leave the race. I am not the type of person that is going to hide or is afraid of losing. So this is for those thinking that. The last days were emotionally very hard because of these comments.
Soudal - Quick-Step took a major hit, and over the coming days saw several more riders abandon with Covid. The team currently has only Ilan van Wilder and Pieter Serry at the Corsa Rosa. Patrick Lefevere has already confirmed the World Champion will in the meantime not race the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a Espana is also unlikely to see a return. The World Championships and Il Lombardia remain, as initially planned, the biggest goals of the year in the coming months.
" But I will take those moments with me on the bike, preparing for my next goals and races. So, I just want to ask everyone to remember I am not a robot, but also a normal human being, husband, son, teammate etc. with normal feelings.I am really looking forward to set some new goals and feel ready to make it a beautiful second part of this till now beautiful season. See you soon," he concluded.
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