In the calendar of the cycling season, the Clasica San Sebastian is a pivotal race. It generally highlights the riders who finished the Tour de France in good shape and those who approach the end of the season with long teeth. This year, it is one of those who intend to shine during the second half of the year who distinguished himself there. Big favorite, the Belgian Remco Evenepoel signed, on Saturday July 29, a record hat-trick by winning the event he has already won in 2019 and 2022.
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With this third coronation, snatched from the Basque Pello Bilbao, Remco Evenepoel equals the record of the Spaniard Marino Lejarreta, who distinguished himself there during the 1980s. Winner of the 10th stage of the Tour de France in Issoire (Puy- de-Dôme), Bilbao fought to the finish, but could not match the power of Evenepoel in the last 200 meters. The Russian Aleksandr Vlasov, a breakaway time with the two men, finished third, at 28 seconds.
After a second consecutive victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April, Remco Evenepoel was forced to retire from the Tour of Italy in May. With this new success, the 23-year-old Belgian confirms his status as the favorite for the road race of the World Championships (from August 3 to 13), in Glasgow, Scotland, where he will challenge his title.
Burst of speed in the final straight
Like last year, the rainbow jersey woke up on the slopes of Erlaitz (4 kilometers at more than 10%), 70 kilometers from the finish, where he joined the fugitives then in head, the Frenchman Romain Bardet and the Belgian Nathan Van Hooydonck, pulling in his wake the Italian Alberto Bettiol, Aleksandr Vlasov and Pello Bilbao.
But, in the penultimate ascent of Mendizorrotz, only Vlasov and Bilbao managed to stay in the wheel of Evenepoel. Escaped for long kilometers, Romain Bardet, forced to retire after a fall during the last Tour, could not keep up the pace. Then it was Aleksandr Vlasov’s turn to give in. Bilbao managed to follow the Belgian cador, but had to bow to Evenepoel’s burst of speed in the final straight.
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After the World Championships in Glasgow, Evenepoel is particularly expected on the roads of the Vuelta (from August 26 to September 17), in Spain, where he will also put his title at stake. But the competition promises to be tough, with a Jumbo-Visma team led by the winner of the Tour de France 2023, Jonas Vingegaard, and by that of the Giro 2023, Primoz Roglic.