Remco Evenepoel admits he needs to find another gear in 2022 if he wants to challenge Tadej Pogacar, Egan Bernal, and Primoz Roglic at the Grand Tours.
Evenepoel, 21, made his Grand Tour debut earlier this season at the Giro d’Italia, having been out of action for nine months recovering from an injury he suffered at Il Lombardia in 2020.
He has made an impressive comeback this year, winning the Belgium Tour, Tour of Denmark and Coppa Bernocchi, and claiming a few stage victories.
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However, he says he is hoping to take another step after the winter break.
“I returned to the level of the best, to an excellent level, but not yet what we wanted and hoped for with the team," he told La Derniere Heure.
"We know that I have the possibility to be doing better but we still need a little patience. The time will come, for sure. You need to have the legs, know how to choose the moment and spend a winter without problems.
"But I still have some steps to take before I can challenge Pogacar, Bernal, and Roglic, and above all be able to beat them. I hope it will be the case as of next season."
Evenepoel showed some encouraging signs at the Giro as he was second overall at one stage before dropping out in the mountains.
He also looked strong at the recent Road World Championships in Flanders, but is ready now for some time off.
"I am happy to go on vacation," he said. "It will do me a lot of good, physically and mentally. I need it because I have been working tirelessly for a year and a half – since the crash but even before that."
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