Remco Evenepoel’s (Deceuninck-QuickStep) comeback to racing has been put on hold with the young Belgian still experiencing ‘small problems’ after his horrific crash in Il Lombardia. The fall, which occurred last August, left Evenepoel with a fractured pelvis and several other injuries. Although he was back on the bike last October, he has had to dial back his recovery and has not been able to confirm his first race of the 2021 season.

“I have a small surprise for you guys. There were some small difficulties, all part of the rehab process. To be honest, we don’t know yet when I’ll be able to restart because we slowed the comeback down a bit to give my body time to get ready to be 100 per cent. I had some small problems and didn’t feel comfortable on the bike, so I didn’t know when and where I’ll be ready to restart,” he told the media during his team’s January press day in Calpe.

“I’m not a doctor so I don’t know the specific words but it’s just a bit of pain in the area where the fractures were so sitting down on a saddle for a few hours is still hard. It needs to be fixed before being 100 per cent on a bike.”

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Evenepoel had looked to target last year’s Giro d’Italia and the Olympic Games but with the former moved to later in the year and the latter postponed until 2021 he was forced to realign his season. He won the Vuelta a San Juan, Volta ao Algarve, Vuelta a Burgos, and the Tour de Pologne before injury struck and it looked as though he would target a number of week-long stage races at the start of this year until this latest setback. He is not overly concerned at this stage, however, and is still looking towards May and a tilt at the Giro – which has yet to announce its route for 2021.

“We don’t know [what the doctors say about returning]. The body will give the answers, so we will see. We stepped off the bike for a few weeks now already. I’m still able to have some cardio training like walking and swimming. I’m not riding with the boys so it’s an individual program for now. But it’s all going well. I’m not behind schedule because from the first day we said we were trying to be 100  percent on the bike in February, so we’re not behind. Maybe we were a bit ahead of schedule too fast, so no panic. We are aiming to be ready for the Giro of course. I still cannot say when and where I’ll restart or be able to race but we’re aiming to finally go to the Giro.” 

The news is a blow, however, given that in October – when Evenepoel was first training on the road again – he told the Belgian media that his recovery was going quicker than planned.

“Did my recovery not go much faster than I could dream of? Certainly,” Evenepoel said as Belgian TV station VTM at the time.

“At first there was talk that I could only make my first training trip in mid-November. But I rested well, looked after myself well, actually did everything they asked me to do. As a result, everything accelerated.”