Remco Evenepoel is ruing another late-race rumble.
Evenepoel lost his grip of the overall of Itzulia Basque Country just five kilometers from the finish line Saturday to stir up memories of late-race near-misses at this year’s Volta a la Valenciana and Tirreno-Adriatico.
“It was not a bad day. It was just that [I missed] some percentages to be up there with the best, fight with the best, and keep attacking. I missed that today. It’s a bit sad to miss the podium by seconds,” Evenepoel told Cycling Pro Net and other reporters.
Evenepoel bent but didn’t entirely break at the finish of Saturday’s scintillating stage through Spain’s Basque mountains.
The 22-year-old dropped out of a group of top GC talents including the likes of Daniel Martínez and Aleksandr Vlasov, but limited his losses with a solo TT that left him just 24 seconds back on stage-winner Ion Izagirre.
Evenepoel’s delicate two-second GC lead over Martínez was done, but the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl captain came close to the podium, only five seconds down on third-place Vlasov.
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The result put a dampener on a week that saw Evenepoel throwing haymakers with the world’s top GC talents in one of the toughest races of the calendar.
“Even though I am not on the podium, I came here to test myself against the big guns from the grand tours, and I think that I did very well. I was up there until the last climb, and when they made one big acceleration, I could not follow, but I could remain at a high pace, which ended up losing some seconds to the first guys,” he said.
“That’s life. I think the shape is OK, but that doesn’t mean that I feel really happy now because it would have been lovely to have been on the podium in the Basque Country.”
Evenepoel found himself in similar situations when under pressure on steep slopes this season.
He was gapped while wearing the leader’s jersey on the fearsome gravel climb of Valenciana in February and had no opportunity to claw back the time in the race’s final two sprint stages.
Last month at Tirreno-Adriatico saw Evenepoel slide from second to 11th on GC in the gritty mountain stage exploded by Tadej Pogačar with his blazing solo ride.
But with GC victory from a stacked field at Volta ao Algarve alongside two more top-four finishes this season, it’s not all bad.
“There is some disappointment, as I was so close to the podium, but also some satisfaction, because I’m getting closer to the level I want to be. Maybe in a couple of days I will see things differently, given how tough this race was and the quality of the field here,” Evenepoel added in a press note.
Evenepoel will be hitting “reset” ahead of his classics campaign, which opens Wednesday at Brabantse Pijl.