Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel learned lessons from the previous World Cup: “We are going to work together, I said ‘yes’ like with a marriage”

A year after the debacle at the World Cup in Leuven and the squabble afterwards, the folds between Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel have been ironed out. This turned out to be the case at the press conference on Thursday, where the two joked and agreed on several occasions in their answers. “Last year there were indeed some words after the World Cup, but we learned our lessons from that,” Wout van Aert summed up. “Yes, we are going to work together. I said ‘yes’, like in a marriage. And yes, we have talked about it.”

“We want to win as Belgium”, added Evenepoel. “I know Wout’s abilities, he knows mine. We can work together perfectly in the final of a tough game.” To which Van Aert replied: “If we race together, we just have a better chance of winning. I normally have a better sprint than Remco, he can attack from further. But he shouldn’t make his choice too early. We both have to take advantage of the fact that we can be in the final with two. We need to keep both options open. Everyone expects me to aim for a sprint but maybe I can attack earlier.”

“I agree with Wout”, Evenepoel once again agreed with his co-leader. “Stay together as long as possible and don’t waste stupid forces. Mount Pleasant may not be the toughest climb but it is a long course. And it’s a World Cup, so you can always drive faster. The course is not easy either, always turning and turning. The fatigue will be decisive. By the way, we are not the only ones to monitor the matches. I’m thinking of Italy, France, the Netherlands… Many eyes will be on us but we have to stay calm and work together as a team. We have to avoid situations like last year. Me, Wout and the six other boys know how to race. The ideal scenario? That we drive to the finish with a group of seven or eight after a fast final lap and that we are one and two.” Van Aert added. “The main thing is not to attack too early. This is a course on which you should not waste your strength too early.”

Matthews and the French

Last year, Wout van Aert was a favorite at the World Cup in Leuven, but the French finished it off. “They played it tactically strong by attacking from early, too early for me,” said Van Aert, who learned lessons from it. “I have already adjusted my training in the winter. In the spring I was already stronger in the finals of the toughest competitions. Now for me Matthews is one of the favorites. He drives home, with the entire Australian team on his duty. We are the same type: hang on for a long time and still have a good sprint.” Evenepoel sees Matthews as one of the top favorites. “The French team seems to me to be our biggest opponent. And there will always be individual guys like Mathieu and Pogacar. And the birds, they too are adversaries. We are not looking at just one rider.”

The Belgians have been in Australia for some time. “That is not unimportant for the atmosphere,” says Van Aert. “It’s different than getting together a few days before a match. When you’re together for two weeks, you have to adjust a bit. But it was not only important for the atmosphere, also for the physical adjustment, the jet lag. The journey from Canada was tough but now I’m recovered. I’m feeling good. Today was the first day of bad weather, before that I was always able to train well. Am I in my best shape? Hard to say. I feel ready, my build-up went as planned.”

© BELGA

Remco Evenepoel also thinks that after a very tough Vuelta and the jet lag, he still has enough petrol in the tank to make one last shot on Sunday. “I feel better than a week ago. There is more energy in my body. Today was the first day that I woke up later than 6:30 am. That is good news. The body has finally recovered. Whether I have the legs of Liège-Bastogne-Liège is difficult to say. We are in a different phase of the season, I also weigh three kilos lighter. So making a comparison is pointless.”

“No regrets about the time trial”

Unlike Remco Evenepoel, Wout van Aert did not ride a time trial. According to some, a missed opportunity now that the relatively unexpected Tobias Foss, a teammate of Van Aert, took the world title. “No, I don’t regret not having ridden the time trial,” says Van Aert. “I already made that decision in the spring and I didn’t want to change it. You’re referring to the winner’s name but it’s too easy to say I would have won if I had been at the start.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Wout van Aert Remco Evenepoel learned lessons previous World Cup work marriage

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