Remco Evenepoel will compete with Jonas Vingegaard in the Basque Country: “There will be much more racing with the mind at zero”

Remco Evenepoel will compete with Jonas Vingegaard in the Basque Country: “There will be much more racing with the mind at zero”
Remco Evenepoel will compete with Jonas Vingegaard in the Basque Country: “There will be much more racing with the mind at zero”
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Compare your condition with that of Paris-Nice. Have you been able to take a step forward?

“Wow, I finished my training the way I was supposed to. Everything has gone well since then, but to say that I have really improved is difficult, I think. I did gain some extra racing rhythm in Paris-Nice and that may have helped me a bit Punch datum. But purely conditionally, I think it is difficult to say that much has been added. I hope so of course, but I didn’t feel anything special during training. Let’s just say it will be about the same.”

Did you work on anything specific in those three weeks between Paris-Nice and this Tour of the Basque Country?

“I worked a little more on the shorter, more explosive climbs. Blocks of five to fifteen minutes, because that is what characterizes the Basque Country and also the Ardennes classics that are coming. In Paris-Nice it was more the longer climbing, now we focused a little more on shorter blocks, but at higher intensity. The time trial is a maximum of fifteen minutes, so that is also a short, explosive effort.”

In Paris-Nice you were at the start as the top favorite, while here Jonas Vingegaard is at the start. Does that change anything for you?

“No, because in Paris-Nice we did not want to control the race from the first day. This week will be different: the time trial will be very decisive, because the other stages are not the toughest. Be careful, there are climbs that are extremely tough, but there have already been editions of this race that were tougher. Every second will count this week. Friday and Saturday’s stages will also be important.”

Vingegaard was impressive in Tirreno-Adriatico. — © Getty Images

Is the Tour of the Basque Country also a good preparation for the Ardennes classics?

“I think this race is the best preparation for the Ardennes classics. Especially with the Amstel that follows fairly quickly and is still a more explosive race than Liège. I also need this race for the classics, especially for the race rhythm and explosiveness. It is the perfect preparation for the classics.”

The rides are tough, but there are no uphill finishes. Does that invite aggressive racing – and isn’t that to your advantage?

“There will be much less tactical jousting, which was the case on some days in Paris-Nice. Much more will be done with the mind at zero. There are many men who do not have the best sprint and who would benefit from breaking open the final at forty to fifty kilometers from the finish. And then there are riders who gamble more on their sprint, like Primoz Roglic or myself. I shouldn’t be afraid of most competitors in the sprint. It will be a matter of reading the course carefully and daring to take a risk every now and then.”

In Paris-Nice things were very tactical at times.

In Paris-Nice things were very tactical at times. — © AFP

Will the battle with Vingegaard this week say something about the Tour?

“The course here is absolutely not comparable to the Tour. The slopes here last fifteen, maximum twenty minutes. In Spain (in O Gran Camiño) and in Tirreno-Adriatico he was super strong. Whoever finishes ahead of Vingegaard will probably win the match. He is the man to beat and the top favorite this week. The final stage on Saturday is the stage that suits him best. It’s a bit early to compare this to the Tour, but it’s always better to finish ahead of him than after him.”

What time differences do you take into account in Monday’s time trial?

“The climb in the time trial is not super difficult, but it can cause time differences. Afterwards you reach a plateau, so you cannot be at your limit when you reach the top. There are quite a few time differences that can be made. Two years ago (in an even shorter opening time trial, ed.) there were also quite big differences – Primoz Roglic took five seconds on me and I took eleven on Rémi Cavagna. And I think the differences could be even greater on Monday for guys who are having a great day. It is difficult enough for that.”

Evenepoel starts on Monday as world time trial champion in his rainbow jersey.

Evenepoel starts on Monday as world time trial champion in his rainbow jersey. — © Getty Images

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Remco Evenepoel compete Jonas Vingegaard Basque Country racing mind

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