Evenepoel demonstrates in the Vuelta that champions always respond

When you run like a champion since the day you changed your Anderlecht shirt for a cycling jersey, the ball for a bike, when in Belgium they tell you that you are the greatest and compare you to Eddy Merckx, losing 27 minutes in the Tourmalet is very hard. So that he wouldn’t sleep a wink at night and almost so that bad thoughts would tell him to pack his suitcase and go to his house in Calp.

Remco Evenepoel, 23 years old, showed all his character, pedaling with rage. He knew that he would no longer win the Vuelta. It is impossible. But he could succeed in stages, escape in the company of Romain Bardet 90 kilometers from the finish line, and then triumphed alone, more than eight minutes behind the favorites among whom he was until Friday.

It was a day of absolute dedication towards the Belgian runner. The special envoys from his country were already thinking about returning to their homes, but Evenepoel told them on the road and on the bike to stay because he was going to triumph in a stage as hard as the Tourmalet and with the path marked by the climb. to Larrau, the summit that sank Miguel Indurain 27 years ago during the Tour.

A child’s poster

A child, when Evenepoel was in full offensive, with the road full of Navarrese fans who continue to remember every day and for years to come. Induran, showed a sign. He asked him not to give up, as the followers of his country who travel the Vuelta in their caravans, who take out the flags of Belgium and the flag of the Lion of Flanders, the king of the jungle, symbol of a part of the Belgians and equipped with the cycling claws of Evenepoel. And as his wife asked him, he attacks because “champions always respond.”

“It was very difficult to assimilate what happened to me at Aubisque,” ​​he explained. Evenepoel after triumphing in Larra-Belagua, on the border between France and Navarra, very close to Pierre de Saint Martin, where Chris Froome He started winning the Tour in 2015. There was no explanation. He was not sick, nor had he slept badly, and suddenly, in the middle of the climb, he lost strength and fell down. He didn’t even have the chance to hit him. He went out like a candle when he runs out of wax. Goodbye to winning the Vuelta again and on top of that opening the debate about whether or not he was a runner for three weeks. He has run the Giro twice and both times, once due to falls and another due to Covid, he has abandoned, although, in between, there was the unquestionable victory of 2022 in the Spanish round.

The advantage of no longer being a favorite

He played with an advantage. And everyone knew that. Dismounted from the fight for victory, if he escaped, if he sneaked into the escape, no one would go after Evenepoel. He would have been totally different if he was still Jumbo’s great rival. Any of the first three in the general classification, or even the three (in order, Sepp Kuss, Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard) would have jumped immediately and would not have left in a group, that of the middle class, where he was the only one great figure, if you exclude a The bard which has long since stopped fighting for the general classifications.

So 90 kilometers from the finish line he said goodbye to those who were accompanying him in the escape and only The bard He dared to follow it until it burst like a balloon 4 kilometers from the finish line. He was a Bardet who could not be criticized for not giving a relief and tailgating. He didn’t go for comfort or for a reason. It’s simply that he couldn’t and the proof of this is that he exploded without Evenepoel do anything to eliminate it.

“I feel very proud of my reaction. Now what I want is to arrive in Madrid dressed in the mountain leader’s jersey.” She conquered him in Navarra. It may not be the most important classification, but Remco He needs to feel daily contact with the podium, be the protagonist of the Vuelta, win two stages and, surely, try again for victory in the third week of competition.

He cried with emotion as he crossed the finish line. He hugged his team assistants and then with The bardso that it could be shown that there had been no bad feelings between them, between a Belgian who, although Flemish, speaks perfect French, and a rival who shared water and energy bars during the getaway.

He won and the general classification was not altered because only Juan Ayuso, five kilometers from the top of Larrau, attempted two distances to verify what he had already seen on the Tourmalet. If he looked anywhere he only saw Jumbo uniforms. Impossible to move. Better to leave it for another day, with the Angliru and the Cross of Linaresin the Vuelta script written for next week.

2023-09-09 15:38:00
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