The danger will come from all sides for Remco Evenepoel in the weekend where the decision can already be made: “My plan? Defence”

“My plan for this weekend? Defence.” With a bonus of 2’41” on Primoz Roglic and 3’03” on Enric Mas, Remco Evenepoel’s mission is clear. If he has a similar lead over his two closest opponents on Sunday evening at Sierra Nevada, the roof of the Vuelta, then the overall victory in Madrid will be very tangible.

Maarten Delvaux in Montilla

Today at 03:00

Que Sierra, sera. What will be, will be. This weekend is all about the Sierras for Remco Evenepoel. Sierra de la Pendera is the uphill finish on Saturday, Sunday the queen stage of this Vuelta ends in Sierra Nevada. Two stages in which the red leader and his blue and white troops will be bombarded from all sides. Because the competition realizes that it is gradually now or never to shake the hitherto unapproachable Evenepoel. “The next two days may be decisive for the classification,” said Addy Engels, team director of Roglic. “We will take stock on Monday on the rest day. It seems that everything is starting to fall into place.”

Evenepoel radiates a lot of confidence. Because his team rode another strong mountain stage on Thursday, despite the retirement of Serry and Alaphilippe. And because this weekend’s stages and cols are no more difficult than the ones he has dominated over the past two weeks. Sierra de la Pandera is a two-stage climb of about twenty kilometers. Heras, Valverde and Majka once won a stage there. “I actually don’t know that col at all,” Evenepoel admitted on Friday. “First ten kilometers at an average of five percent, then after a short descent follows the decisive part of eight kilometers at an average of seven percent,” he taught without a cheat sheet. “It’s not the hardest climb we’ve had. The sequence, length, warmth and fatigue may well play their part.”

© EPA-EFE

Evenepoel expects the big battle on Sunday on the way to Sierra Nevada, with the finish at 2,512 meters on the roof of the Vuelta and the only climb with the label ‘out of category’. In the Tour of Switzerland, the 22-year-old Vlaams-Brabanter turned out to be vulnerable at great heights, but he has trained hard for it over the past two months. “I know that climb inside out. The start is very steep, but then it flattens out. You can really recover there if you are in the wheel.”

Three more mountain rides

Get on the wheel and follow. That is Evenepoel’s clear strategy. “If they attack me and I can control it, that’s perfect. Movistar really wants that second place, there is still a lot of battle for the podium. I have a lead of almost three minutes, so I can be more relaxed than the rest. I just have to defend. I don’t need it to attack.” After all, Rode Remco knows that only three mountain stages will follow after Sunday. And they are a lot less heavy on paper than the menu of the first weeks. “If I survive the weekend with the same time differences, I won’t be far off.” The future’s not ours to see. Que Sierra, sera.

© BELGA

The article is in Dutch

Tags: danger sides Remco Evenepoel weekend decision plan Defence

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