At just 22 years old, Remco Evenepoel hasn't had an easy ride. Two years ago he came close to losing his career (and life) before it properly started as he crashed and fell almost 10 metres from a bridge into a ravine.
Yet after a difficult comeback season in 2021, the young star has put to bed any doubts about his ability as he won the cycling World Championship in Australia yesterday. If this weren't impressive enough, Evenepoel (from Aalst, just to the west of Brussels) had already won the three-week Vuelta a España earlier this month.
The World Championships offer an almost unique spectacle as teams are composed by nation rather than the trade team they ride for. Unlike in other sports, where there might be multiple opportunities each year to play for your national side, road cycling has very few races where you compete as a team with compatriots.
This unusual arrangement can become all the more challenging as riders who normally are arch-rivals find themselves riding side by side. Unlike team sports, in cycling there is really only one winner. The tension was visible in last year's World Championship, which had the additional hype of taking place in Flanders.
Belgium was dreaming of a home winner and the man for the job was the celebrated Wout Van Aert – one of the top one-day racers in the world and probably the number one last year. Yet even before the race, Evenepoel faced very public criticism for riding selfishly and there were fears that a team rift could ruin Belgium's winning chances. The youngster himself had found occasion to vent his frustrations which did little to endear him to the media.
But after such a stellar 2022 season, the precocious Belgian can expect a rapprochement with the press. From us at The Brussels Times, congrats Remco!
Did you watch the worlds? Let @Orlando_tbt know.
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