Since he tested positive for the coronavirus and pulled out of the Giro d’Italia, cycling fans around the world have been hoping to see a battle between Remco Evenepoel, Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard in July.
But is it a good idea or not to let Remco Evenepoel make his debut in the Tour in July? Everyone has an opinion about it and a lot of ink has already been spilled about it. We have listed all the arguments pro and con for you.
No rider in the world is subjected to as much performance pressure as Remco Evenepoel. Such is his status as a world champion and super talent. No matter how often Patrick Lefevere tries to temper expectations, if the Kleine from Schepdaal is at the start somewhere, we are only satisfied if he wins. If he doesn’t, he has failed in the eyes of many fans.
That could be exceptionally different in the Tour. The Tour was not on the schedule. He starts there for the very first time. The many climbs and the limited number of time trial kilometers suit him less well and he has to compete against Tour winners Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. Whoever demands that Evenepoel triumph in yellow in Paris is very strict.
Perfect test for 2024
This absence of pressure gives him a unique opportunity to discover the Tour circus at his leisure. After all, next year he would contest the Tour for the first time and immediately take a shot at the yellow jersey. It is therefore useful to have experienced the hardness and grandeur of La Grande Boucle before.
Yellow in the Basque Country
Of course, starting without pressure does not mean that he has to apply the brakes. On the contrary, the Grand Départ in the Basque Country is a hilly stage with some tough climbs and finish on a stretch of one kilometer with an average gradient of 5.4%. To win, he will have to beat greats like Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogacar, but then he can immediately delete a Tour stage and the yellow jersey from his bucket list.
Another reason why Evenepoel just has to ride the Tour is because he is simply a professional cyclist and is completely ready for it. He already has a big round in his legs and won it too. Furthermore, there are 10 final victories in smaller stage races, a world title and 2 monuments on his record. If he’s not ready for the Tour, who is?
Finally, he may not have to be so afraid of Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian cycling wonder is in the rag basket and will probably not appear at the start in his very best form.
On paper, Evenepoel may be able to ride the Tour without much pressure. In reality, it could turn out completely differently. Because we do not expect a reigning world champion and winner of the Vuelta to become a red lantern.
Evenepoel will of course compete for the stage victory in the time trial and uphill and also want to aim for the final podium in Paris, or a spot nearby. If he does well in this, then they will soon expect more. Patrick Lefevere also cited that argument to explain why a Tour participation is not yet for this year.
Another argument for not participating in the Tour is the World Cup in Glasgow. The road race will take place barely two weeks after the Tour. The time trial again 5 days later. While Remco Evenepoel has very little chance of winning the overall victory in the Tour, both the World Championship road race and the time trial are perfect for him. If he drops the Tour, he also has an edge over his competitors who have suffered for three weeks in France.
Where Evenepoel was presented with a dream course in the Giro with no less than 70 time trial kilometers, Tour organizer ASO opts for only 22 kilometers against the clock this year, the second lowest number ever. The passage through the Alps is also extremely difficult. Not quite his thing.
Still plenty of time
This year might be a fun journey of discovery without much pressure, Remco Evenepoel is still only 23 years old. So enough time. Lance Armstrong only won his first Tour at the age of 27 and has won a few editions since then!
Field of participants
Finally, Evenepoel will have to compete against the biggest clappers in July. Cycling phenomenon Tadej Pogacar is the best rider in the world and has already won the Tour twice. Jonas Vingegaard then surprised by beating the Slovenian uphill last year. Even for a stage victory, the world champion will have to show a strong performance!