Patrick Lefevere on growing media storm: ‘Evenepoel is an ascetic, Boonen was a real rock star’

Quick-Step boss on Remco Evenepoel: 'He can win any race, except maybe Paris-Roubaix.'

Photo: Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Patrick Lefevere is relishing another world championship coup with one of his riders after Remco Evenepoel‘s stunning victory Sunday in the UCI Road World Championships.

“Some champagne corks have flown,” Lefevere joked to Belgian media.

It’s the seventh rider under Lefevere’s tutelage to win the rainbow stripes since 2003, but the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl boss said Evenepoel’s meteoric rise to win Belgium’s first grand tour since 1978 and Belgium’s first world title since 2012 even caught him by surprise.

“The boy has been with us since he was 17,” Lefevere told Sporza. “We have tried to guide him personally, especially after what happened in Lombardia. He even caught me with how fast he’s come up, but that is not so difficult these days. Only God knows if he can top this season.”

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Evenepoel’s win equaled a long string of cycling milestones, including becoming only the second rider along with Greg LeMond to win both the junior and elite men’s world titles.

Lefevere undecided if Evenepoel will race Tour de France

Lefevere dodged questions about whether or not Evenepoel will make his Tour de France debut in 2023.

Both the Giro and Tour routes will be revealed next month, and that will allow the Quick-Step staff to evaluate which course might better suit Evenepoel next season.

Hot off winning the Vuelta and worlds double, the Tour hype is already growing.

“We will see what the courses look like,” Lefevere said. “If he goes to the Tour and things don’t go well, then the pressure will be on him all over again. We also have to ensure that Remco does not want to be too good too soon [in 2023], that he does not want to prove what he is worth in the rainbow jersey. We have no doubts about that.

“Remco can win just about any race, except maybe Paris-Roubaix,” he said on a Sporza podcast.

Lefevere: ‘Evenepoel is an ascetic, Boonen was a real rock star’

Evenepoel celebrates with teammates. (Photo: JAN DE MEULENEIR/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking of media pressure and scrutiny, Lefevere expects Evenepoel to be able to handle the massive media wave that will only increase into a hurricane.

Belgian newspapers are providing live updates on Evenepoel’s every move since Sunday, but Lefevere pointed out that Evenepoel is more accustomed to the media glare compared to the buzz that surrounded Tom Boonen a generation ago.

“Remco is indeed calmer now, but that’s not because we gave him media training. I’m really against that. If you take the spontaneity away, you take the rider away,” Lefevere said.

“We went through ‘Boonen mania’ in 2005, but I don’t think it will turn out like that for Evenepoel. Evenepoel is an ascetic, Boonen was a real rock star. He went to the toilet at a party and came back with 10 phone numbers.

“Remco has now found peace. He comes from a stable family anyway and now also has a private balance with his fiancée Oumi. I hope he can keep that peace in his head,” Lefevere said. “He also has the escape route to Calpé. And with the money that he now earns, it is no problem for Evenepoel to escape for a while.”

Evenepoel is set to have a hero’s welcome Saturday in Brussels’ Grand Place, and will race Binche-Chimay-Binche/Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke on October 4 to show off the rainbow stripes to home fans.

“What he does after that is up to Remco,” Lefevere said.

Evenepoel zeroes in on the world title Sunday. (Photo: Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Quick-Step riders who’ve won the world championship since 2003

2022 — Remco Evenepoel

2021 — Julian Alaphilippe

2020 — Julian Alaphilippe

2014 —  Michal Kwiatkowski

2007 — Paolo Bettini

2006 — Paolo Bettini

2005 — Tom Boonen

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