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Season stretches too far for Remco Evenepoel as fatigue bites in road world championship TT

Vuelta a España champion feels squeeze of stacked summer schedule in ride to third: 'Today was the first day I started to feel a bit normal'

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The 2022 season may feel a few weeks too long for Remco Evenepoel.

Evenepoel trod water with his second UCI Road World Championships TT bronze medal Sunday as the post-Vuelta a España fatigue began to bite.

“Yeah, I’m proud of it. But if you already have a silver, you hope to get a higher one,” he told reporters after his race.

Sunday’s Wollongong time trial may have come a little too soon for Evenepoel. The 22-year-old only finished rampaging to a historic red jersey at the Vuelta a España seven days prior, and saw a hemisphere-shifting flight and media furor in the interim.

“It was difficult to deal with the travel and the fatigue,” Evenepoel said in his press conference. “Today was the first day I started to feel a bit normal.

“At the start of the week, I was not good at all. I had to be a bit careful today to be honest. I think what I could do on the bike today was just ‘good.’”

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Evenepoel dominated the Vuelta time trial at the turn of this month, taking almost one minute over Olympic champion Primož Roglič and recording his fourth ITT victory of the season.

Sunday’s race had been touted as Evenepoel v.s. the world, but this time, the world won.

A surprise ride into the rainbow jersey from Tobias Foss and a close second for Stefan Küng left Evenepoel his third piece of worlds TT silverwear, but not the elusive gold.

After blazing to silver on elite debut in 2019 and standing bottom of the podium in front of home crowds last year, Evenepoel’s quest for a world time trial victory will continue in Glasgow in 2023.

“There were guys stronger than me today so nothing to complain about or be sad about,” he said. “I think it’s just good to try and keep recovering for next week now. I hope I can recover and take this feeling to the road race Sunday.”

‘The season is getting quite long’

Evenepoel may be a fourth-year pro, but at 22 years old and with two seasons upturned by injury, he’s still a relative newbie.

A season that began at the very start of February at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana pushed Evenepoel’s ambition to the absolute and was rewarded with stage race, monument, and grand tour victories – but still not the rainbows he’s long reached for.

“So I’m still missing a gold medal,” he laughed. “I’m going to keep fighting for the world title every year.”

Evenepoel will be straight to bed after a disrupted sleep Saturday night. The 22-year-old is plugging in for a rapid recharge from jetlag ahead of a ride alongside Wout van Aert in the marathon-length road race next weekend.

“I feel like I can fall asleep already now, so the season is getting quite long,” he said.

“I just hope I can recover well and get through next Sunday’s race with fresh legs because I’m going to need them for a close to seven-hour race. I think I can just be happy with what I did today, so no regrets about anything.”

Evenepoel doesn’t have any more racing in his diary after the worlds road race next weekend.

A co-captaincy role with Van Aert at the road race sees Evenepoel in with a chance at ending his season in style – but medal or no medal, he’ll be relishing the prospect of an off-season.

“I’m going to try to recover as best as possible and try to enjoy a bit of the Australian country and culture,” he said of the next week. “And then one more time, all in, next Sunday.”

Can Evenepoel turn his fatigue around in the road race Sunday?