In a year boasting 13 wins, including prestigious titles at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Clásica San Sebastian, and the Road World Championships Time Trial, Remco Evenepoel of the Soudal-QuickStep team has expressed a tempered satisfaction with his 2023 cycling season, candidly sharing in a thorough discussion with Het Laatste Nieuws on the eve of the Kristallen Fiets awards ceremony.
Evenepoel's remarkable journey through the season, which witnessed him amass a career total of 50 victories, has not been without its tumultuous moments. Even amidst victories at the UAE Tour, Giro d'Italia stages, the Vuelta a España’s mountain title, and the Belgian National Championships road race, Evenepoel's self-appraisal fell short of a full 10 out of 10. The gifted 23-year-old attributes this to unexpected setbacks, such as the COVID-19 disruption during the Giro d’Italia and less-than-ideal preparation for the Vuelta a España.
The Belgian pro-cyclist’s analysis of his performance does not mince words. Even with major wins underscoring his prowess, the specter of what could have been, especially considering his confident start in the Giro, tempers his evaluation. "My best 20 minutes of the year,” he dubbed the Giro's opening time trial, yet illness, an integral yet brutal part of the sport, thwarted his anticipated triumph.
Evenepoel's Vulnerability and Future Plans
Contrasting with the highs, 2023 also spotlighted moments of vulnerability and struggle for Evenepoel. Struggles ensued both on and off the bike, with palpable indirect stress stemming from swirling rumors about a potential shift to Ineos Grenadiers and extreme pre-Vuelta training schedules in Andorra. His confessions to the Belgian newspaper highlighted not just the external, but internal battles, revealing a competitor fiercely committed yet simultaneously grappling with the innate challenges and pressures of professional cycling.
Further insights revealed a reflective athlete, considering detailed changes for the upcoming year, which includes a possible debut in Milan-San Remo and Paris-Nice, a targeted third win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and a definitive shift towards the Tour de France. However, Evenepoel also emphasized a shift in priorities, planning a later season start in mid-February and integrating more family time into his rigorous schedule.
With an eye towards the future and a careful evaluation of the past, Evenepoel stands on the precipice of continued glory and potential adjustment, embodying the relentless pursuit and introspective recalibration that defines elite sportsmanship. While his focus remains unwavering, the cycling community keenly anticipates how this blend of triumph and reflection will sculpt his path in the forthcoming season.
As the cycling world looks towards the impending Chrono des Nations and beyond, Evenepoel’s 2023 season, brimming with victories yet subtly nuanced by personal and professional introspection, will linger in the collective memory, inviting speculation and excitement for what 2024 may unveil.