But at just 22 years old, it’s all a learning experience.
Evenepoel hasn’t been able to hold the wheels when the road pointed uphill in a Swiss race touted as his opportunity to test himself against some of the GC best.
Another disappointing day Saturday saw the Belgian lose a further minute on the GC pack to slump four minutes down ahead of the final time trial.
“I was able to keep up with the pace, but I feel like I don’t have the gears in my legs like I did in Norway,” Evenepoel told reporters at the finish. “I’m not good enough to compete with the best this week, that’s for sure. Maybe after my altitude training, I was too good too soon.”
An impetuous attack early on the steep final summit left Evenepoel in the red and fumbling to recover.
“After I was dropped, I was able to keep a steady pace and I overtook some guys. But I am not satisfied with my shape and legs,” he said. “If I’m good, I should be able to compete with this on every course.”
Currently in his fourth year in the WorldTour, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s young star cut a swathe through spring. Victories at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour of Norway and Volta ao Algarve made jewels in the crown of a consistently crushing season so far.
Maybe a case of “too much, too young” for Evenepoel this week?
Evenepoel suggested so. A push for national time trial triumph next weekend will put a stop on the first part of his season before a long spell away from racing this summer, torpedoing rumor of a Tour de France start.
Evenepoel is all-in for the Vuelta a España in August and wants to hit his grand tour debut hot.
“I am already on 40 racing days, which is quite a lot. I want to start very fresh at the Vuelta, which was perhaps a little less the case here,” he said. “Those are all things you learn. Start the Vuelta as fresh as possible, do a lot at altitude, train a lot uphill, and then make the best of it.”
Evenepoel will have one last chance to test his best against grand tour talents like Geraint Thomas, Jakob Fuglsang, and Sergio Higuita in the closing Suisse time trial Sunday.
A big summer in Spain follows soon after.
— Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (@qst_alphavinyl) June 18, 2022