All the pressure for Remco Evenepoel in the Valladolid time trial | Cycling | Sports


When Bernard Hinault won the time trial 40 years ago on the same road with a 10s advantage over Julián Gorospe, in yellow, the hotel shared by Movistar and Jumbo on the extension of Paseo Zorrilla was an orchard and next to it there were pine forests and not a shopping center and semi-detached houses, Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon were kids who were making their debut in a great tour and the engineers who created the Reserve wheels, carbon rims that devoured the turbulence generated by others, had not yet been born, than the mechanics of the team of Roglic and Vingegaard pamper them with the religious reverence with which great winemakers treat their best wines. They are the wheels, the bikes, the key weapon of a cyclist in a time trial as flat as the one that in 25.8 kilometers through Valladolid, up Pisuerga, down Pisuerga along the Zorrilla promenade, and a little from side to side to go up a A one kilometer slope towards the stadium will mark the beginning of the true Vuelta, the end of the floral games, of the fireworks on the slopes and the little mountains in which the Jumbos were exhibited with more easy rubble than hard poetry. The serious begins. The pressure begins for Remco Evenepoel.

The Belgian champion is strong in time trials and an enigma in the high mountains. In the two Giros that he has started he has always withdrawn from the Dolomites. On the Tour he has not yet debuted. The Vuelta that he won, at the age of 22, only had one great mountain day in the Sierra Nevada. In 2023, the weekend that he arrives, he will have the Tourmalet and the terrible chain Larrau, on the hard side, Belagua, and also the Angliru in the third week. And the great rivals of 2022 were Enric Mas and Juan Ayuso, who are still strong in 2023, but there is also Jonas Vingegaard, winner of the last two Tours ahead of Tadej Pogacar, perhaps the best rider in the world, always first in all the races, and second in the Tour, and Primoz Roglic, winner of the Giro this May that Evenepoel abandoned due to the covid, and always seeded in the Vuelta.

Evenepoel is the favorite in Valladolid, the Hinault of the 21st century, but just winning won’t be enough for him, he will need enough of an advantage to move defensively in the high mountains. “If I can take out half a minute, that would be fine,” said the Belgian, who will wear the rainbow of the time trial world champion. “It will be fast, suitable for a specialist.” On such a flat course, but longer (35 kilometers, 50.7 kilometers per hour on average) and rainy, the Belgian took 17s from Roglic. In the Tour (22.4 harder kilometers, 41 on average), Vingegaard led Pogacar by 1m 38s.

While the mechanics work on the goats, the disc wheels, the 60-tooth chainrings, 11-tooth sprockets, Enric Mas, two meters from them, talks about his forecasts, which are to finish in the top five or six without wasting much time. , a lot that he did not quantify, although he did specify: “Maybe a time trial disaster tomorrow, but I have faith and confidence that I will come out of this well. I don’t see them as superior.”

Between 4:46 p.m., when Ayuso will start, and 5:02 p.m., when the leader, Sepp Kuss, will do so, all the favorites from the Plaza del Poniente will start, separated by two minutes: Mas (4:48 p.m.), Vingegaard (4:50 p.m.), Roglic ( 16.52) and Evenepoel (16.54).

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