Belgian super-talent Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) has been cleared to resume training by his team doctors as he steps up his recovery from the shocking crash that brought his 2020 season to an abrupt end.
The 21-year-old misjudged a corner in Il Lombardia and tumbled over a wall. It was an extremely dramatic moment, one that initially prompted concerns about whether the Tour of Poland champion would race again.
Evenepoel returned to training in 2020, but his rehab was put on pause last month when it was discovered his recovery was not going exactly as expected.
'Something special' - Cavendish thankful for British support this year
- 'We used to hear the clown tell jokes' - Pinot laments loss of fun at Tour de France
- No longer a fun-sucking 'mountain train', Ineos might be cycling’s most exciting team
Remco Evenepoel 'a big talent, can recover from horror crash' - The Bradley Wiggins Show
"The recovery process from a crash of the magnitude that Remco had will always have some ups and downs," said Deceuninck’s team doctor Phil Jansen.
"In the beginning it was all very positive and healing very quickly but then we had a slowing of the process.
"While this was nothing too severe, we had to pause and we are now happy that Remco can continue training and build towards the start of his season.
"We will have to proceed with caution and it will still be a long road to him being on the start line of a race, but it is now going in the right direction."
The team has not decided on a race program for Evenepoel, but it is hoped he might feature in the Giro d’Italia in spring – his Grand Tour debut. He had been due to lead the team’s GC ambitions in Italy last year, before the crash ruled him out of contention.
"I am obviously really happy that I can get back on my bike and ride again. For now, I have to take it step by step and depending on my progress we can decide my future program, but the main thing is I am making progress," added Evenepoel.
A recovering Remco Evenepoel consults with team staff.
Image credit: Getty Images
'Race safety is still a huge issue' - Our view
The news that Evenepoel is back on his bike is fantastic news for the cycling community at large and will be very well-received. Nobody likes to see crashes, particularly those of the severity that Evenepoel endured. Watching the live pictures of Il Lombardia at the time was a sickening experience, and it is wonderful to be able to put that behind us. We can be extremely thankful that he is still so young, and his body more resilient than it would be after 10 seasons of plugging away in the WorldTour.
Race safety is still a huge issue at the moment, with the UCI's ban of the 'super tuck' receiving widespread criticism for addressing entirely the wrong problems, and while it’s great that Evenepoel has recovered sufficiently to get back on his bike, there are still no guarantees of a return to his full strength in the coming season, or even the ones beyond. The UCI and race organisers must do better at protecting riders, so that the impacts of crashes – which, whatever anybody says, are an inevitable part of the sport – are minimised as much as possible.
We look forward to seeing a faster, stronger and more resilient Remco return to the startline of a bike race as soon as he is ready.
Highlights: Baroncini becomes men's U23 road race world champion
Baroncini wins U23 men's road race for Italy