Evenepoel aims for stage win in Tour de Suisse cycling comeback

A day ahead of the Tour de Suisse cycling race, Belgian favourite Remco Evenepoel spoke to the press for the first time since pulling out of the Giro d'Italia with Covid-19. "I wouldn't start if I weren't in good shape," the Soudal-Quick Step world champion said of his comeback. He also said he would not be racing in the Tour de France this summer.

Evenepoel will return to competition at the Tour de Suisse on Sunday, four weeks after he was forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia while wearing the pink jersey. "We'll see how it goes," a relaxed Evenepoel told an online press conference. "I'm coming to the start quite fresh, and I wouldn't start if I weren't in good shape, but I might not be in top form. The number one objective is a stage win, and then I'll try to go for a good classification. We will have to see from day to day, but I definitely have the motivation."

Evenepoel prepared for Switzerland in the Belgian Ardennes. "The week after my withdrawal from the Giro, I felt very sick. A little bit sicker every day, actually," he said.

"I had to recover well first. I felt normal on the bike only two weeks after my Giro exit. Afterwards, I trained well for 10days in the Ardennes. Long training sessions, intervals. I decided to race the Tour de Suisse during my first training block there because my values were good enough to race the WorldTour. In any case, I will be better than in the last days of the Giro. It was clear then that I was not the normal Remco. But now I'm healthy again."

"The number one objective is a stage win, and then I'll try to go for a good classification. We will have to see from day to day, but I definitely have the motivation"

The Tour de Suisse, an eight-day WorldTour stage race, begins on Sunday with a 12.7 km individual time trial in Einsiedeln. Later there are two climbs and a second individual time trial.

Evenepoel also stressed that he would definitely not be racing the Tour de France this summer. "We did talk about it, but it was soon a 'no'. I will definitely go in the future, but not this year," he said. 

"I spent six months preparing for the Giro. I sat in the void at the top of a mountain for three months. I went into the Giro at the peak of my form. But when I got sick, I wasn't on the bike for 10 days. It's not easy to get back into top form for a race like the Tour. And at the Tour I want to go all in at 150 per cent. That is certainly not possible now. So it is a logical decision not to race the Tour this year. You have to be a bit more patient."


Remco Evenepoel after winning the ninth stage of the 2023 Giro d'Italia © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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