Remco Evenepoel is back. And fans of cyclingThose who enjoy this wonderful time in which a group of insolent twentysomethings have turned every race into a party shudder. The Belgian is the great attraction of the Italy spin that tomorrow starts in Turin. His first race after he suffered the shocking fall in August 2020 that made him fear the worst. Evenepoel was looking for his first “monument” in Lombardy after an astonishing start to the season in which he had taken the four stage races he had contested (San Juan, Algarve, Burgos and Poland). He was a nineteen-year-old boy who devoured men, unable to respond to his explosiveness. But the descent of Sormano came on the way to the finish line in Como. He was descending at the tail of the leading group, somewhat confused, oblivious to the dangers of a road on which the complaints of the runners rain. Evenepoel mismeasured the entrance to one of the bridges, his bicycle hit the small wall and the Belgian disappeared from the image. It was one of the most harrowing afternoons in the history of modern cycling. It plunged from a height of about four meters, some trees partially slowed its fall and happily found no rocks or stones on its landing. Within hours the medical report reassured his infinite legion of followers. Pelvis fracture, an important injury, but one that comes back, although Eddy Merckx – who also broke it when he was in his twenties – always said that his body was never the same and that as a result of that injury, back problems accompanied him forever.
Remco Evenepoel has been away from the competition for nine months, feeding the nostalgic with specific comments on social networks and videos in which he showed his slow recovery process. In them the most bitter face of all this time is not noticed, the loneliness and doubts. Yesterday he confessed it shortly after arriving in Italy to compete in that same Giro that he prepared when he went headlong on a bridge at Sormano. “What I want most in this Giro is to enjoy because after my fall, at times, I was close to depression. Now I need to enjoy myself, pedal with my teammates and whatever the result, have good memories together ”. Not a day of competition has had the young Belgian prodigy. Too long to expect something big to debut on a grand stage tour. The most dedicated part of his fans do await some great day, one of those days in which he puts his engine to work and blows up his rivals. They do not ask for more. Just what he offered in his few weeks as a professional a year ago now. Evenepoel, the boy who played in the Anderlecht youth academy and who even wore the Belgian U16 soccer team shirt on several occasions before turning to cycling, insists that he has traveled to Italy to collaborate with Joao Almeida, his partner in the Deceuninck, the Portuguese who last year wore pink for much of the race but did not have the strength to resist the push of the Ineos and Tao Geoghegan Hart especially. Evenepoel promises to stand by him and push him into making fourth place from a year ago something bigger. But the cycling world awaits the Belgian to analyze his response capacity in an always crazy race (the Giro is usually a permanent riot, far from the control established in the Tour) and with a very hard route, with eight finishes up and without days that allow cyclists a moment of relaxation. They want to see him there, wearing the conditions that will allow him to challenge the Van der Poel, Pogacar, Roglic, Van Aert or Bernal. Of all of them, only the Colombian will be seen in Italy. Bernal will be the leader of the ranks of Ineos and for many the great favorite of this edition together with the British Simon Yates, who this spring has shown signs of being at the right cooking point to win a big test. Along with them, we will have to take into account Hugh Carthy, Vlasov, Jai Hindley (second in the edition of a year ago), Buchman, Nibali (in an exercise more in romanticism than in common sense) and the Spanish will deposit his faith in Mikel Landa who arrives convinced that he has an opportunity due to the route.
But this Giro is above all that of Remco Evenepoel, that of his second birth as a cyclist after the wonderful months he gave us a year ago. Eddy Merckx, somewhat grumpy as usual and tired of being compared to him, has also contributed his grain of pressure: “He still has a lot to prove.” There is a lot of truth in the phrase, but also of hope. The same with which the fans greet the arrival of the Giro.