Remco Evenepoel says his withdrawal from the Giro d’Italia was one of the “hardest setbacks” of his career and has hit back at some of the criticism he has faced.
The 23-year-old then came in for a remarkable amount of criticism for the decision, with Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport suggesting he would have “found it hard to accept defeat and preferred to leave the race with the pink jersey and two wins in the two time trials”.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday evening, Evenepoel hit back at his critics, saying that the past few days had been extremely difficult for him and he is not a “robot”.
“So, It’s difficult to decide where to start.
“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. I should thank in first place my wife & parents for the support they gave me the last few days. Also my closest family members & friends really supported me a lot and well!
“Also people to thank: my teammates and team members of @soudalquickstepteam!
Stage 16 highlights: Almeida wins, Thomas into pink, Roglic limits losses
“Then, my feelings after having to abandon the Giro. Definitely one of the hardest setbacks in my still very short career. 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 & 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. 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.
“I am really looking forward to set some new goals and feel ready to make it a beautiful second part of this till now beautiful season.
“See you soon. Remco.”
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