Our last article went into detail on the recent changes made to the UCI rule-set for the World Tour calendar 2021. Safety concerns had reached a tipping point, with countless riders sustaining severe injuries as they crashed or, in some cases, were struck from their bikes by other riders, disused water bottles strewn about the track and wayward “safety” barriers. The irony. Coincidentally, news has recently broken that Remco Evenepoel has been allowed to return to full-time training on the bike.
Many of you will remember the horrific crash we witnessed last year, at the 2020 Il Lombardia race, that sent the young Deceuninck-Quick-step rider tumbling over a bridge and down into a ravine below. He suffered a contusion on his right lung and fractured his pelvis as a result of the fall in August. It was one of the most egregious examples of a neglection of rider safety, in a year that saw the rise of the Coronavirus, taking multiple riders and staff members in Italy out of commission already, on top of the multitude of crashes in the various races.
Now, the 21-year-old upstart is back in the saddle, eyeing a return to competition at the Giro d’Italia later this year, in May, before going on to the Olympics, the World Championships and also Il Lombardia 2021. Ironically, the same country where he sustained the injury from which he is still recovering. He had been targeting 2020’s Giro, and was considered among the favourites for the race, before the crash and resulting injuries kept him away from the start line. Now he is back and looking to gain retribution on the race that will have taken almost a year out of his young career by the time he returns.
On Monday, the team issued a statement from the Belgian, confirming that, after recovery had slowed in December, he is officially cleared to continue his recovery on the bike whereas, before, he had been limited to swimming and gym work only. (Via Cycling Weekly) “I am obviously really happy that I can get back on my bike and ride again… 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.” He speaks with an air of confidence, even though his readiness for the Giro in three months’ time is anything but a certainty.
Team doctor Phil Jansen was quick to temper expectations, saying: “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.” It is still a way back before the young rider will be ready to make his Grand Tour debut but, I think, the whole cycling community will be looking forward to welcoming him back and seeing what the coming season brings for him and his team.