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Evenepoel uncorked a dominant solo victory at Clásica San Sebastián, breezing away from Simon Yates when the road went uphill and out-time trialing a bunch of chasers over the course of an hour as the race roared toward its city center finale.
“When you make it hard on the Jaizkibel on this course it’s a long and hard final. On the way to San Sebastian, there was also a headwind, but I kept my power high and stayed low with my body to be as aero as possible,” Evenepoel said after scoring solo victory Saturday.
“Then I then went all out on the final climb and … it’s amazing.”
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s young “Wolf” now bounces from Saturday’s barnstorming victory in the Basque race to a high-profile debut at the Vuelta a España in three weeks.
“I can go to the Vuelta with a really good feeling, with a lot of confidence and a relaxed feeling. It great to win here,” he said.
Victory in the Spanish Basque Country Saturday sees Evenepoel come full circle. Then only 19, Quick-Step’s young “wolf” ripped to breakout victory as San Sebastian in 2019 and rocketed to the world stage.
A grand tour debut at the 2021 Giro d’Italia and marquee wins at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Tour of Poland pumped Evenepoel to the center of baying Begian bike media and saw him titled “the next Merckx” with each passing win.
Three years after he surged to the spotlight, Evenepoel returned to San Sebastián off the back of an altitude camp lighter, wiser and ready to claim his second txapela victory trophy.
“It’s perfect! I can give one [of the Basque berets] to my parents and keep one for myself,” he said. “I am really very happy with this victory. It was a long training camp, but I was really excited to start here.”
Evenepoel rides toward the Vuelta with rockets in his heels.
An opening time trial in the race’s Dutch start on August 19 sees Evenepoel hot-favorite for the race’s first maillot rojo before the Vuelta hits Spanish soil for several days in the 22-year-old’s favored Basque roads.
“It’s one of my favorite areas to race here, with the best fans. Together with Liège, this is my favorite race,” Evenepoel said Saturday.
“To win them both in one season is amazing. It’s a perfect race between my training camps and the Vuelta, so to win is amazing.”
After riding an uneven and injury-plagued race for GC at his Giro d’Italia debut in 2021, Evenepoel is planning to race for stages and with an open playbook in Spain next month.
But with Tadej Pogačar calling time on his grand tour season, Primož Roglič still mending Tour de France injuries, and Richard Carapaz only just clicking back into gear after a long mid-summer layoff the race for red looks wide open.
Evenepoel took timely victory over Vuelta rivals Yates and João Almeida en route to his solo victory Saturday. The grind of a three-week race is a whole different beast from an all-out blast in the Basque Country, but “Remco Fever” will be catching light nonetheless.