Remco Evenepoel, during the time trial from Elche to Alicante. Javier Lizon (EFE)
It’s a rocket, a wheeled missile, an animal. Remco Evenepoel by land, sea and air, a cyclist who does not waver because so far he climbs better than anyone and rolls faster than anyone. This was clarified in the Alicante time trial, a fury on two wheels, another blow to the favorites. Although the platoon smelled it. “This is a very good course for Remco, strong and streamlined, the ideal combo. He will beat me for sure”, accepted Remi Cavagna (Quick-Step), who smashed the clock being one of the first to start, an accomplished time trialist who finished in third position behind the Belgian and Roglic. “If he continues like this, he is unstoppable. I would say that only Pogacar could beat him at the moment”, accepted the Portuguese Almeida (UAE). No one was wrong; Evenepoel to power.
Before the start, Roglic warmed up on the roller with his airpods on, also with a fan that supplied him with water vapor from above. A few meters away, Evenepoel did it with large headphones and two fans from below. There were seconds left for the battle. The one in which there is no team that is worth it, no partner to protect you from the wind or catapult you, no strategy and no one to set the pace for you. The time trial is the fight of the man on the bicycle against time, legs, head and others. Yes, there are, however, details. “Everyone will use a 58-tooth single chainring,” they revealed from UAE before the bikes passed the review of the UCI stewards. Although there were some who, less powerful, preferred to wear the 56. Evenepoel, more than enough, used a 60.
It turns out that there are new winds in this Vuelta, since the last four times —in addition to the last three crowns— went to Roglic, already preceded in 2018 by Rohan Dennis, also from Jumbo. The Australian was among the possible candidates for the stage victory, however, unable to overshadow the French Cavagna, who, seeing Evenepoel’s passing time at the first control, smiled and waved his hand as if to say: “Go!”.
They were 30.9 flat kilometers surrounded by palm groves and suffocating heat, mitigated in the final meters by the breeze that rose on the Alicante promenade with the light waves as company. Although the atmosphere was heated at the finish line, since the call of the Vuelta brought together as many cycling fans as foreigners – all enthusiastic about hitting the banners with the passage of cyclists – who spent a different day of vacation. A day in which the withdrawal of Bennett was confirmed, who became the king of the Netherlands by winning the two massive sprints, punished by a covid that he does not forgive; There are already 14 cyclists who have dropped out of the race for this reason.
It was also a day in which Carlos Rodríguez confirmed that he has everything to string together the Spanish successes of the past. “It’s a pride because he had never done so well in a time trial”, snorted the white jersey. Enric Mas also accepted the distances, who maintained second position after solving the stage that worried him the most, happy now because the road will get steep again. And Ayuso was also panting, pachucho because before running he had three PCR tests done to rule out that he had covid because his head hurt a lot.
But for headache… Evenepoel. Upon reaching the finish line, everyone’s records broken and surrounded by a cloud of journalists, he threw water on his head, reddened by the effort. But it is that only he was able to make a sprint raised on the bike in the last meters, a demonstration of strength and ambition, that it will be difficult for someone to discuss the red jersey even though there is still half of the Vuelta.
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