But he can’t win the Tour with Soudal-QuickStep (the argument goes) because they’re set up for one-day races and he wins in Tour de France stages, not yellow jerseys. In fact, when Evenepoel won the Vuelta a España last year, it was the team’s first Grand Tour GC win. There have been two second places, Rigoberto Urán at the 2014 Giro d’Italia and Enric Mas at the 2018 Vuelta, but the best finish by a Soudal-QuickStep rider at the Tour was a fifth place by Julian Alaphilippe in 2019.
Ineos Grenadiers, this argument continues, is a superior team looking for a rider capable of winning the Tour de France. The last Ineos rider to win the Tour was Egan Bernal, in 2019, which ended a golden period in which Ineos Grenadiers (also Team Sky) riders won seven Tours in eight years. They are eager to experience Tour de France glory again and have everything Soudal-QuickStep lacks to make Evenepoel a Tour winner: the resources, experience, riders and hunger for a Tour victory to match his own of the rider. Evenepoel and Ineos would be a match made in heaven, most observers agree.
But Soudal-QuickStep’s Patrick Lefevere disagrees, of course. He believes the 23-year-old phenom is exactly where he is right now. He most recently hit back at a comment from former Tour winner Alberto Contador, who told Eurosport that Evenepoel’s move to Ineos was an “open secret” and that he would be taking a number of riders with him.
“I’m not going to waste any more words on this story,” he wrote in his weekly column on The newspaper, “but I note that Remco has become a world time trial champion as a Soudal-QuickStep rider. If our team didn’t really have scientific expertise, this definitely wouldn’t have worked. Time trialing is not a discipline you win with a wet finger.” This is a weak argument at best, since winning an elite time trial only makes you favorite for the Tour de France time trial, not the GC, and because “scientific expertise” is only one element of the complex formula that makes a round. Champion of France.
The controversy has even pitted Lefevere against Evenepoel’s father Patrick, who is his son’s agent and told the Belgian newspaper The last hour, “I can’t promise that Remco will stay with Soudal-QuickStep. I had contact with five major groups, three of which were very specific. This makes sense because Soudal-Quick Step is not sure that they will be able to offer Remco the guarantee that they will be able to play for victory in next year’s Grande Boucle. Maybe in three years it will be like that, but Remco wants to be with the best in the Tour from next year.”
Lefebvre responded by threatening a lawsuit. The consequences of a possible withdrawal are incalculable, for him and for us,” he said. “If you don’t honor your contract, they will sue you. It would also be a disaster for our sponsors.” Evenepoel is under contract with Soudal-QuickStep until the end of 2026. Lefevere also said he was working to make the team competitive for the Tour. “Our team is making strides in all areas,” he said. On Wednesday, the team announced that they have signed accomplished mountaineer Mikel Landa to a two-year contract.
“I am happy and motivated by this new challenge and supporting Remco in its goals,” Landa said in a statement released by the team. “I come here with a lot of experience, especially in Grand Tours, where I have fought for the podium or helped others win several times in the past.” Ironically, Landa will race against Evenepoel in the upcoming Vuelta.
As for the 2023 world time trial champion himself, he is fed up with all the rumors and talk – although he must surely be flattered by how much is being said about him at the moment. He told his father and Lefebvre to shut up, saying Sporza, “I know better what is and what is not possible. And my father and Patrick [Lefevere] he would be better off keeping quiet.” And he has been referred to several times in rumors of his move to Ineos as “bull—-“. After Contador’s statement, he complained: “I hope I don’t hear the same [stuff] for three weeks during the Vuelta”.
On the other hand, he has never declared if he was staying at Soudal-QuickStep or if he was leaving. A firm statement from him, one way or the other, would certainly go a long way in him not having to hear it [stuff] again.
#Evenepoel #moving #Ineos