An unexpected off day for Remco Evenepoel in Thursday’s Tour of Switzerland. Our 22-year-old compatriot eventually lost two minutes and twelve seconds to winner Aleksandr Vlasov. Has the standings been lost? Evenepoel does not want to resign himself to that for a long time. “There are still two tough stages and a time trial to come, I think nothing has been lost for a good classification,” said Evenepoel.
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“At the end I started to feel a bit mothy from the warm weather, but I’m not going to put it on that”, says an exhausted Remco Evenepoel just after the finish. “I would have preferred not to lose any time today in such a stage, but the race was done very quickly with this heat. If you then get overheated or you are slightly less, you pay that in cash.”
In the end Evenepoel crossed the finish line in two minutes and twelve seconds. “In itself, two minutes… I’m not going to say that’s positive, but there are other stages to come and also the time trial. I don’t think anything has been lost to ride a good classification yet. Today is just a half off day. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.”
Evenepoel had to release twice. The first time at just over 20 kilometers from the finish, but then he was able to come back. “I can normally handle a hard pace, but they always started full throttle on those climbs. As a result, I had to release a first time, then Ilan (Van Wilder, ed.) and Fausto (Masnada, ed.) brought me back just before the descent”, Evenepoel tells the story of his course. “That was actually ideal.”
But with ten kilometers from the finish, Evenepoel had to let the (thinned) peloton drive again. “I had actually forgotten the climb on which I then released again. I thought we were driving straight to the finish, so that was a downer. When I realized that we still had to climb that penultimate climb, it was very difficult for me.”
“Two minutes is a lot anyway, but I’m going to try to get some time back tomorrow”, Evenepoel remains combative. “And Sunday (in the final time trial, ed.) secure. Nothing is lost yet. There are still two very long, hard rides. But I think there are certain men who are very strong. You notice that those men who are in the run-up to the Tour are in slightly better shape and can react a little more quickly to everything. After the first day I had a really good eye on it, but today I felt that my legs felt heavy. Then you pay that in cash anyway in such a final. I’m going to try to straighten it out anyway, the climbs that are coming should suit me a little better.”