With him, the verb is as sharp as the starts. We like or we pout, but the character already does not leave indifferent. To win Liège-Bastogne-Liège this Sunday 24 April, Remco Evenepoel placed a “bomb” at the top of the Côte de la Redoute. The sequel sounded like “Remco”. The Belgian crushed the pedals for 30 kilometers and headed straight for the finish, sure of his riding skills and his lucky star.
At 22, the Quick-Step rider shared the podium and The Brabanconne with two compatriots, the unexpected Quinten Hermans and Wout van Aert. Belgium had been waiting for a successor to Philippe Gilbert for eleven years. At the time of the attack on Evenepoel, the Walloon was dropped from the group of favorites for his 17and and last “Doyenne”.
” I have no words, continued a moved Evenepoel. To finish on my own in my favorite race, almost a minute ahead, I’m very happy. » On arrival, the winner of the day had a moved thought for his teammates caught in a collective fallstarting with Julian Alaphilippe.
The world champion finished his “Doyenne” in a ditch at the foot of a tree 62 km from the finish. Also involved in this huge “bowl”, Romain Bardet came to the aid of his compatriot. Alaphilippe was evacuated in an ambulance to Liège hospital and is suffering from shoulder blade and back pain.
At this precise moment, the season of the classics of the Quick-Step seemed to turn for good into disaster. Non-existent on Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the “Wolfpack” – the nickname of the team – gave the impression of being a band of lost wolf cubs rather than this pack of wolves at the top of the cycling food chain in recent years.
But the team of Patrick Lefevere still kept a good cartridge with Evenepoel. On a bike, the former promising midfielder from Anderlecht quickly won among the juniors, sometimes with a little sadistic pleasure in disgusting the competition.
When Merckx prefers Pogacar
From his first sport, his detractors say he would have kept the arrogance and bad manners. Philippe Gilbert was not far from sharing this opinion before getting to know his young compatriot during the world in 2019. “He’s a real good guy, spontaneous and honest”he confided a few months later to the newspaper Laatste Nieuws.
He got used to it, but “Remco” had to deal with the pressure of an entire country, which this time was convinced that it had come across the new Eddy Merckx. “Remco has above-average physical strength, but he has weaknesses in the mountains, downhill”still recently calmed “the Cannibal” in an interview with West France. In recent months, Merckx has preferred to dub another cycling phenomenon, Tadej Pogacar, absent on Sunday for personal reasons.
Evenepoel is not yet playing for victory in a Tour de France like the Slovenian. May be later. But at 22, he has just signed the 26and victory of a career that could well have ended on August 15, 2020. That day, the Belgian made a mistake in the descent of the Sornano wall on the Tour of Lombardy. Below the wall, he can neither move nor breathe and will come out with a broken pelvis. Almost a miracle.
A few months later, the 20-year-old says he was changed by the accident. He knows how to appreciate the simple pleasures of life like a good cake on Sunday after a training session. In Liège on April 24, he put the most beautiful cherry on top with his first victory in a “Monument”.