Remco Evenepoel produced one of the fastest individual time trials in Grand Tour history, ticking off his main objective of La Vuelta a España by taking a stage victory, which saw him become the first Belgian rider in the last 35 years to triumph in a stage against the clock at the Spanish race.
As the last man to roll down the start ramp, Remco knew what lay ahead, having trained in the morning on the course before following Rémi Cavagna from the car as the Frenchman rode a perfect race that put him in the hot seat with a time of 34:18. Starting his time trial some two hours after Rémi concluded his effort, Evenepoel easily found his rhythm and made a clear statement as soon as the first checkpoint, where he improved his teammate’s time by a whooping 21 seconds.
By the time he reached the halfway point of the 30.9km ITT between Elche and Alicante, the red jersey was already in pole position to take his maiden Grand Tour stage victory, and the 22-year-old continued to keep to tap out a ferocious tempo on his Specialized Shiv, gaining time on all the GC rivals despite some drops of rain falling on the road inside the last twenty minutes of his effort.
On the finishing straight, Remco almost caught his two-minute man before stopping the clock in 33:18 thanks to a stunning 55.67km/h average speed, thus recording the fastest individual time trial of the season. In the end, it was a beautiful and memorable 1-3 for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, with Cavagna joining the Belgian on the stage 10 podium.
“I am just so happy and proud with my first Grand Tour stage win! I achieved my dream and goal for this race, and it feels great. The pressure is off now, but the confidence and motivation are high, so we will continue to fight over the next stages. Winning the Vuelta remains a dream and we will try to keep the jersey for as long as possible, but for the moment we will just enjoy what’s a fantastic day for us”, said the first Belgian in more than four decades to take a victory at La Vuelta in the leader’s jersey.
“I saw what Rémi did and knowing the time in the key sections of the race helped me a lot, as I noticed many were losing time in the second part of the course, which included that long downhill. I knew I had to push the entire time I was out on the course and after almost 30 kilometers, on the small bump to the finish, my legs were a bit heavy, but I left it all out there and it feels nice to know that I won my first Grand Tour stage in the leader’s jersey”, concluded Remco after his first ITT win at World Tour level, which will see him start stage 11 with a buffer of more than two and a half minutes over his nearest opponent.