Few riders can dream of reaching the rostrum at their Tour de France debut, however few riders have had the identical meteoric rise to the highest as Remco Evenpoel.
The Belgian has a top-three spot in his sights for a highly-anticipated debut on the Tour in July, however his marketing campaign to get there begins at Saturday’s Figueira Champions Traditional in Portugal, the place he’ll look to “take a victory as fast as potential.”
Evenepoel’s pre-race press convention for his Portuese block of racing noticed him place the Tour above some other purpose, with Paris-Good, the Ardennes Classics and the Olympics additionally recognized as main aims.
“There are such a lot of objectives, however a dream coming true for this 12 months is to be on the rostrum in Good,” stated Evenepoel to media together with Cyclingnews.
“The spot does not matter simply to be on the rostrum in Good, that might be a dream come true.”
He’ll have a star-studded begin checklist in his approach come July with defending champion Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike), two-time Tour winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Crew Emirates) and four-time Grand Tour champion Primož Roglič (Bora-Hansgrohe) additionally chasing the maillot jaune in a matchup for the ages.
However the younger man has already achieved nice issues within the sport at solely 24 so who’s to say he received’t have the power when the Tour begins on June 29 in Florence?
There isn’t an early face-off in Portugal for Evenepoel with both of the trio talked about, however the Vuelta winner who succeeded him, Sepp Kuss shall be on the Volta ao Algarve and greater than testing him up the race-deciding Alto da Fóia and Alto do Malhāo climbs.
The 24-year-old isn’t shying away from his large rivals, nevertheless, relishing that he’ll seemingly be racing Roglič at Paris-Good in March and provisionally each the Slovenian and final 12 months’s Tour winner Vingegaard on the pre-Tour Critérium du Dauphiné.
“For positive, we’ll see one another in Dauphiné after which three weeks within the tour. So it is already fairly an extended interval that we that we are going to race all collectively,” stated Evenepoel.
“It is all the time good to have them within the races the place I’ll take the beginning line.”
The Figueira Champions Traditional would be the first take a look at for the Belgian champion on an “explosive” 222km route from São Pedro to Figueira da Foz. Evenepoel should navigate 4 laps of a hilly circuit, that includes class one and two climbs, across the coastal metropolis if he’s to start out his 2024 season with a victory.
It’s the 5 days of racing within the Algarve that he’s extra trying ahead to by way of the way it will get the legs into gear. Evenepoel began 2023 on the UAE Tour whereas in 2022 he opted for racing in Valenciana after which the Portuguese area in what was his greatest season thus far with the street World Championships and Vuelta a España title. So it’s no shock to see him again.
“It is all the time fairly explosive racing right here in Portugal. Within the Algarve, they all the time have an entire stage race, flat levels, a bit extra hilly levels after which the correct, for instance, a semi-mountain stage with [Alto de] Foia (7.5km at 6%).
“In order that’s why I actually like Algarve. It is a fairly quick race by way of days. However I feel usually or virtually each season, I got here out with higher form than I went into the race.”
Partnership with Landa and gravel on the Tour
It would even be the primary alternative to see Evenepoel race along with his new teammate and certain super-domestique for the Tour de France, Mikel Landa.
“I feel we’ll use this particularly to get to know one another within the race,” Evenepoel stated.
“We all know one another from different groups, however we don’t blindly know know the way any individual feels or precisely the second when he feels good or not. That is a very powerful [thing] this week, to actually get to know one another.
“If one of many two has a little bit of a nasty day, we’ll empty our legs for the opposite one. I feel it will be a reasonably straightforward partnership collectively.”
It has been an extended low season for the time trial World Champion with 5 weeks off the bike and lots of time to organize for the season forward which felt “fairly uncommon” for Evenepoel however he admitted “it was really very vital” with the large objectives he has in thoughts.
With the Tour in his sights, Evenepoel did enterprise over to France in the direction of the top of 2023 to recon a few of the levels in “secret” that could be pivotal come July. The 25km stage 7 time trial from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin and the controversial gravel stage 9 beginning and ending in Troyes specifically.
However for Evenepoel, it wasn’t as divisive as it could have appeared when introduced with the route not being overly “technical”. Ineos Grenadiers and Visma-Lease a Bike have additionally already been to Troyes to take a look at the gravel roads.
“The gravel stage might be, for the skin world, going to look extra loopy than it really is,” Evenepoel stated.
“The stage itself is just not actually technical. The sectors should not harmful. I feel it is one thing that everyone ought to pay attention to, that there’s gravel, nevertheless it’s nothing nothing particular.
“For positive we’ve got to watch out with not dropping silly time there however I feel it is a very lovely stage and I actually benefit from the recons up there.”