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Pogacar beyond reach says Tour de France rookie Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel, the current world time-trial champion, is preparing for his debut Tour de France with cautious optimism, as he shared during a press conference in Florence on Wednesday.

At 24 years old, Evenepoel, a former world road race champion and Vuelta a Espana winner, was once hailed as cycling’s prodigy. After overcoming a serious setback involving a plunge into a ravine, he appears to be fully recovered and ready to compete at the highest level.

Riding for Soudal Quick-Step, Evenepoel has been touted as a contender for victory at the Tour de France, particularly for the best young rider classification. However, he tempered expectations, emphasizing a day-by-day approach and aiming to peak during the second week of the race. Despite his credentials, he acknowledged Tadej Pogacar’s dominance, especially after his impressive performance at the Giro d’Italia.

Reflecting on the upcoming stages in Italy, Evenepoel noted the challenging terrain in the initial part of the tour, starting from Florence on June 29. He expressed optimism about building momentum in the first week and reaching his peak form as the race progresses towards the third week.

Evenepoel’s career trajectory includes a remarkable recovery from a severe injury suffered during the 2021 Tour of Lombardy, where he fell into a ravine, resulting in a broken pelvis and extensive hospitalization. Despite this setback, he went on to win the world title and the Vuelta in 2022, earning recognition as the world cyclist of the year.

Accompanied by teammates Louis Vervaeke, Yves Lampaert, Ilan Van Wilder, Gianni Moscon, and Casper Pedersen in the Quick Step team, Evenepoel is focused on making a strong impression at the Tour de France, while Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe opts out to prepare for the Paris Olympics.

Born in Aalst, Belgium, Evenepoel initially pursued a football career before shifting his focus to cycling. His rapid ascent through the ranks, including winning junior world titles in both time-trial and road race events, led him to join Quick Step at a young age. Despite comparisons to cycling legend Eddy Merckx, Evenepoel prefers to forge his own path in the sport.

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