On May 08, 2021, 184 pro riders were at the start of the 104th Giro d' Italia in Sicily. As top favorites, Egan Bernal and Simon Yates were top listed by the international press, while in Belgium - surely also fueled by its own entourage and its unprecedented self-assurance - the pressure on Remco Evenepoel was already inhumanly high. He might well win the Giro after his rehabilitation, or at least make the podium.

Even though it was his first race after the terrible tumble in the Tour of Lombardy, the Belgian hype/dream certainly didn’t stop in the first days of the Giro, in which Evenepoel seemed almost the equal of later winner Bernal. In the end – and perhaps just as well for his later career -, cycling laws proved to apply to Evenepoel as well. After a number of stages, his feet were put on the ground. That was perhaps just the next step in the evolution of this amazing talent, a talent with far too erratic a character according to many.

This season, after the Tirreno – Adriatico and the Brabantse Pijl – where he was already nicely himself – he was almost completely grounded. Especially on social media the criticism about the person Remco Evenepoel was carried to a climax. Until… there suddenly followed that brilliant ‘Remco-exploitation’ in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Immediately everyone was hanging on his every word and he was again praised to the skies.

It reads like a story from a Hollywood movie, but how unfortunate is it not for humanity in general? What does this say about (part of) our current society?

Remco Evenepoel is one of the few personalities who is completely PUURIC in all he does or says. His ‘straightforward, straightforward’ style is exactly what I miss in others. Just the way he feels, sees and thinks, Remco puts things very ‘hot’ on the plate of colleagues/press/outsiders. That he has many opponents as a result says as much about those opponents as it does about himself.

With Remco no hypocrisy, no sweet and restrained behavior in front of the cameras with a very different face in everyday life behind the cameras. No made-up sympathetic stuff when the cameras are rolling. No, Remco is Remco, sometimes quickly irritated, but correct, usually right in what he says/says, but just as well he can apologize or forget and forgive very quickly. He is often very cheerful, but can also get very angry (is it sometimes allowed?). Heart on his sleeve, blabbering and direct to the point, without stories, syrup and sugar to make everyone believe how perfect he is!

That he is arrogant? That he is overflowing with himself? That is easily written down and told.

However, a very self-confident person, who on top of that has his heart on his sleeve and dares to speak the truth and/or his own opinion, is usually described as arrogant or “thick-necked” by weaker and/or jealous personalities who follow society’s established path.

It is therefore dead wrong that this pre-programmed society is constantly feeding him the prevailing rules of ‘how to be likeable’. That the world has already made him change some of it. You see how Remco now has to (forced) weigh his words. How he has to speak differently in front of the TV and press, how young Remco is now actually not allowed to be Remco already! How they have taught him that a ‘pants guy’ of 20-22 years old had better keep quiet, not wave his arms, not have to talk too much and thus, like everyone else, just have to walk neatly on the path…How unfortunate is this not, that he actually has to go through life hypocritical and unreal because this is the way society wants it?

Why is it that many – often without really knowing what they are talking about – judge others, condemn them and try to mow their heads off when someone sticks their head out of the cornfield?

Dear people, let Remco say straight out what he thinks of the things going on in the peloton. Let him wave his arms, let him be angry, let him regret what he did wrong. Let him be open-minded so that he can learn from his mistakes and develop himself. Let him forgive, forget, challenge, play and perform. Let him bluff, exude self-confidence and tell the world how good he feels! Let Remco, be Remco!

I hope you all enjoy reading issue 69 of Cyclelive Magazine,

Patrick Van Gansen


Photo: © Press Giro d’Italia – Remco Evenepoel on the start podium of the Giro 2021

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