They didn't say he was likely to crack, they said it was always a possibility. They also said they'd look at it day by day, but they also wanted to give Remco his fair chance at going for GC. And again, he learned a lot from it. For the team, Remco's comeback was just as important looking towards the future, as the GC ambitions of a rider who will leave the team in a few months. I'll repeat, the biggest mistake the team made, was not to bring better support.It's Quickstep themselves claiming before the Giro that Remco's likely to crack. I'm just showing my agreement about this claims by also giving my own arguments why they were valid.
Loosing 4min in the first week of GT is not a collapse and is still keeping you in better position for overall result, than a rider whose preparation consisted of 2 months of training, 0 races, and never been tested as a GC rider before.
What would he learn from that? Picking out a few stages and finishing in the peloton would not have taught him anything about what it takes to deliver 3 weeks in a row. It would not have pointed out that his descending is abysmal, because even he can follow a mellow pace set by the peloton when the favorites ride away. It would not have slammed his bikehandling skills (or lack thereof) in his face, because he would just be moseying in the group along with Dan Martin at 8 minutes of Bernal.The most natural option would have been to go stage hunting, as QS almost always used to do, let Evenepoel ride and test himself on a few stages, but not get supported as a leader, let Almeida go for certain stages, let Cavagna go for stages, let Honoré go for stages, let Knox go for stages. Maybe change the outlook of the team as well, bring someone like Cattaneo or Cerny instead of either Keisse or Serry, if you don't need "protectors" so much as guys capable of going for stages themselves. I'm not even talking about a sprinter because none of the options was imposing, but that would have been a possibility, too.
The whole "we are going all in for GC this time" was a special move which wasn't necessary and they must have believed in it to have a very good chance of succeeding, otherwise they wouldn't have done this.
People are too fixated on the result here. Evenepoel and the team learned a lot, and they learned it because he rode for GC. Had he not done that, the team would might not have noticed they brought a knife to a gunfight in terms of GC support. Evenepoel already knows he can perform if he can pick out days over a course of 3 weeks. He's already won 2 one week stage races within a timespan of 3 weeks (Burgos & Poland), obviously simply cherrypicking some stages and using the other stages as training, would not be an issue, but he would not have learned from it.