Remco Evenepoel, the little cannibal of cycling, likes to put an end to food shortages. On the roads of Spain, two weeks ago, the rider became the first Belgian to win one of the three Grand Tours (France, Italy, Spain) in forty-four years. Sunday September 25, ten years after the victory of his compatriot Philippe Gilbert, the 22-year-old rider brought back to the flat country a new title of world champion on the road.
Enterprising as usual, the Belgian placed a first acceleration 35 kilometers from the finish then a second to win the Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko on the Mount Pleasant hill. All that remained was for him to manage, as an expert in the time trial, the last 25 kilometers of the urban circuit to raise his arms alone under the sun of Wollongong (Australia), after 6:16 a.m. of effort. He is more than two minutes ahead of Frenchman Christophe Laporte – the only Habs to win a stage this year in the Tour de France – who sprinted the chasers grouped together in the final, and Australian Michael Matthews.
Men Elite Road Race Podium 🌈
— UCI (@UCI_cycling) September 25, 2022
Wout van Aert, the other designated leader of the Belgian selection, fails for his part at the foot of the podium, while one of the favorites, Mathieu van der Poel, abandoned at the start of the race, exhausted after a night spent at the police station. The Dutchman is accused of having pushed two teenage girls who prevented him from sleeping in the corridor of his hotel room, “assaults” for which he will appear in an Australian court on Tuesday.
A Grand Tour, a “monument” and the Worlds in the same year
« We have no regrets because the strongest has won”, reacted the French Julian Alaphilippe, who bequeaths his rainbow jersey of world champion to his teammate in the Belgian team Quick-Step Alpha-Vinyl. Selected for the France team despite the uncertainties about his state of form after a season punctuated by falls and injuries, the last of which was three weeks ago on the Tour of Spain, the reigning double world champion was able to do better than a 51st place.
With the Vuelta, the classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring – one of the five “monuments” of the cycling season – and the Worlds in its purse, Evenepoel joins Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault in the core of riders to have added a Grand Tour, a “monument” and the world championship to their list the same year. “I won everything this year, it’s incredible”, enthused the one who had also offered the prestigious Classica San Sebastian this summer.
In the footsteps of Eddy Merckx
The hatching of the Belgian could even have occurred earlier, he who had taken many months to return from a heavy fall on the Tour of Lombardy in the summer of 2020. His show of force on Sunday once again summons the memory of a complete rider like Eddy Merckx was in the 1970s, and some are already presenting him as his heir.
However, the Belgian will have to confirm the hopes placed in him during the next Tour de France, where he does not yet have any participation, and where he will have to resist profiles of pure climbers like the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar and the Dane Jonas Vingegaard.
Among the women, the day before, the equally ferocious appetite of Annemiek Van Vleuten placed the Dutchwoman well ahead of the road race. Despite an elbow injury that occurred three days earlier and her status as a veteran of the women’s peloton, the 39-year-old rider concludes a season that she will have dominated in every way, having already won the three Grand Tours.