Volta ao Algarve Cofidis
Stage 2) Sagres, Vila do Bisto - Alto da Foia, Monchique
Evenepoel achieves another milestone
Remco Evenepoel continued his exceptional start to the season Thursday afternoon, when he capitalised on João Almeida’s tremendous work and stunned his rivals on Alto da Foía, where he surged to victory in spectacular fashion and took not just the stage (making it two in a row for Deceuninck – Quick-Step in Algarve), but also the yellow jersey.
As expected, despite some skirmishes on the penultimate ascent, stage 2 came down to the final kilometer, where Evenepoel launched a perfectly timed and perfectly executed attack at 500 meters to go, a fantastic acceleration which saw him zip clear of the reduced bunch that up until that point had been kept together by Almeida. The Portuguese’s superb effort was instrumental, the fierce tempo he laid down preventing attacks and allowing Remco to dose his effort carefully on the 7.5km climb before emerging from the group at a speed that would have made the famous Road Runner envious.
In an instant, a gap opened and the 20-year-old Belgian put his climbing prowess on display, with the finish line getting closer and closer as he stomped on the pedals. Not even a late acceleration of Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe) or the strong headwind in the closing 100 meters could stop Remco, who pumped the air as he became one of the youngest ever stage winners in the history of the Volta ao Algarve.
This spectacular victory moved Evenepoel into the yellow jersey, which was sported Thursday by teammate Fabio Jakobsen (who’ll now sport the points jersey), and served as proof that he kept the momentum going after his overall triumph at the Vuelta a San Juan: “Yesterday, when we discussed the tactics, we agreed that we should remain attentive and do our race, and the team did an extraordinary job the entire day, working for me and keeping me out of the wind. During the stage I had good sensations in the legs and I said to myself that I would try something in the final kilometer.”
“For that reason, when one guy attacked, I asked João to bring him back and keep the pace high. Then, with 500 meters to go, I went full gas and managed to keep the chasers at bay despite the strong headwind in the final 100 meters. I surprised myself today, because I worked a lot on my acceleration, and to see the progress I’ve made with the help of the team is really great. I’m happy the yellow jersey remained in the team and we’ll try to keep it here, although we know many challenges still lie ahead”, added the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider, who holds the lead also in the mountain classification.
But it was more than just celebrating this unforgettable moment for Remco Evenepoel, as he dedicated the win to countryman Nikolas Maes, who is going through a difficult moment “There are more important things in life than winning a bike race and that’s why my thoughts are with him and his family. My victory is for them, and also for my family and girlfriend, who are always there for me and show me how important is to have your loved ones by your side.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images