Evenepoel hit his pre-race goal by winning Tuesday’s individual time trial in blazing dominance, and now he’ll try to win the whole thing.
The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider started last Tuesday in stinking-hot Elche as the Vuelta’s race leader, and beat back Primož Roglič by 48 seconds, and took more than a minute out of everyone else.
“It’s really nice to win this TT in the red jersey. It’s really a dream,” Evenepoel said. “That’s a big surprise.
“I saw Remi [Cavagna] did a big ride, and that was perfect for me, because when I was on the bus, I could see that everyone was slowing down in the second part,” Evenepoel said. “I knew I had to push one power all the time. My legs were so heavy and it made it really hard.”
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Coming into the Vuelta, Evenepoel said his initial goal was to win what would be his first grand tour stage victory. No one expected he’d be ripping the legs off everyone at the midway point of the race.
Evenepoel now leads three-time defending champion Roglič by 2:41, who climbed into second, while Enric Mas is now third at 3:03 back.
Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers) retained fourth, now at 3:55, while Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) climbed into fifth at 4:50 back.
Quick-Step will now rally around Evenepoel in red
With such a wide margin, Evenepoel and his Quick-Step team can now race more defensively going into a pair of decisive mountain stages at the end of this week in Spain’s Andalucía.
“Today was like a second rest day,” Quick-Step’s Fausto Masnada told VeloNews at the line. “Everyone is saving their legs to help Remco. The motivation is doubly high when someone like Remco is leading. Everyone will give all for him to win.”
Tuesday’s time trial was an important milestone for Evenepoel.
Not only is it his first grand tour stage win, but victory here also sets him up for a run at the overall win in Madrid in what would be a remarkable capstone to his already impressive trajectory.
“I knew it would be a super-fast time trial. I achieved my dream today, and now I am going to fight and try to win this Vuelta,” Evenepoel said.
“The pressure is off. I won a stage,” he said. “Now the whole team is super confident, and everyone is performing so well. Now we just have to fight to take it home.”