Remco Evenepoel blasts Giro d’Italia critics: ‘It’s difficult to know where to start’
The reigning world champion serves up a strong retort to the doubters over his COVID-19 Giro exit: 'What is hard to accept is all the fake and negative comments I got after having to leave the race.'
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Remco Evenepoel had the last word with critics Tuesday over his Giro d’Italia departure last week with COVID-19.
The reigning world champion offered a sharp retort to the arm-chair sport directors and Monday morning quarterbacks following his high-profile departure from the Giro after winning the Sunday time trial and regaining the pink jersey.
In an expansive, carefully worded post on Instagram, Evenepoel spoke out for the first time since his abandon of the 2023 Giro with COVID-19.
He didn’t hold fire.
“What is hard to accept is all the fake and negative comments I got after having to leave the race,” Evenepoel wrote. “I am not the type of person that is going to hide or is afraid of losing. So this is for those thinking that.
“The last days were emotionally very hard because of these comments. But I will take those moments with me on the bike, preparing for my next goals and races.
“So, I just want to ask everyone to remember I am not a robot, but also a normal human being, husband, son, teammate etc. with normal feelings.”
Evenepoel’s comments come following a week of racing at the Giro after he pulled out with illness.
The stunning exit of the world champion in the pink jersey with COVID-19 last week drew ire from everyone from the coronavirus deniers on one extreme to others who alleged that he was leaving for more nefarious reasons.
Evenepoel, however, countered that the Giro departure was the hardest thing in his relatively young racing career.
“It’s difficult to decide where to start,” he wrote.
“But let’s start with the positive news. After today’s check-ups and medical screenings, I got the green light to start training again and to think about new goals.
“Then, my feelings after having to abandon the Giro. Definitely one of the hardest setbacks in my still very short career,” he said.
“Leaving the race with a COVID-19 infection was a very brutal end of what could have been a beautiful story. Six months of full preparation for only this race. Sacrifices, long days in the rain, long periods away from home. Everything was going according plan but that is how sport goes.
“Ups and downs are part of our job and I can accept that without any problem at all. What is hard to accept is all the fake and negative comments I got after having to leave the race.”
Team boss Patrick Lefevere already staunchly defended Evenepoel against the naysayers, and confirmed he will not race the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España this year.
Evenepoel said he’s returned to racing, but has yet to define his racing calendar after the Giro.