Evenepoel took the unusual step of entering the WorldTour peloton directly from juniors racing, bypassing the normal apprenticeship in the Under 23 ranks that all other professionals take before moving up to the elite races.
The 19-year-old was in control of the storied Belgian race, with a history dating back to 1908, taking a strong lead after winning the second stage on a hilly, cobbled course by 42 seconds.
He backed it up with solid performances over the time trial and the subsequent stage with fourth and third placings respectively against a quality field that included most of the top-tier Belgian talent and teams.
“Being the youngest winner of the race is a great achievement, but it hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m thrilled and at the same time extremely grateful to the entire team, who continued to protect me today and make sure I seal this beautiful victory”, said Evenepoel.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned this race is that alone you can’t do too much and in order to reach your goals, you always need a great team. I had one by my side and I consider myself lucky. We raced as one and this is, without any doubt, one of the best things of the entire week.”
The young rider comes from a football background having played for Anderlecht FC as a youngster, but made the switch to cycling and has made every post a winner since.
He dominated his time as a junior, winning 18 out of 27 races in his final year, including a come from behind win at the world championships after a mechanical saw him have to make up a two-minute deficit mid-race. Evenepoel finished 110th on the final stage of the race, but on bunch time after being brought down in a late crash within three kilometres of the finish.
“This week has been a rollercoaster of emotions," said Evenepoel, "but I remained calm at all times and overcame every hurdle, including today’s crash. Fortunately, there were no consequences and the bad luck ended up helping me, as I could cross the finish line alone and get that big round of applause from the fans, something I will forever cherish.
"Now I’m going home, enjoy two days of rest with my family and some pizza, and then I’ll continue my build-up for the two races at the Nationals, the ITT and the road event, where I want to help the team keep the jersey.”