Remco Evenepoel will start the men’s road race at the Tokyo Olympics this Saturday as one of the favorites for victory among the 130 riders lined up in Musashinomori Park.
The 21-year-old is expected to be co-leader of the Belgian squad with Wout van Aert and said on Wednesday that his teammate was among the big favorites for the victory at Fuji International Speedway after 234 km of racing.
Evenepoel, who hasn’t played since the Belgian Championships in mid-June, will face a number of big contenders who flew to Japan straight from the Tour de France. He said these runners could have the edge on the pitch, depending on how cool they are.
“There are several guys who have made their Tour to prepare for the Games. Maybe they still have an advantage,” Evenepoel told the gathered media, including Het Nieuwsblad, during a press conference before the race. “But someone like Tadej Pogacar recovers quickly from such a tough race. He also knows how to do it, so I don’t see why he wouldn’t be one of the big favorites.
“Then when you see how Wout has been flying over the past few weeks you can tell he’s in the shape of his life. He always said he would work to achieve his goal and his Turn would be to prepare. for the Games. He did it. well. He looks crisp and fresh. This Wout shouldn’t be afraid of this class. “
As for the course itself, the race in Tokyo seems to be the most difficult in recent memories – even more difficult than the high climb final in Rio at the 2016 Games. The riders will tackle four passes – Doshi, Kagosaka, Mikuni and then Kagosaka again – with the ascent of Mount Fuji in the middle of the race.
Evenepoel recognized how difficult the course looks and compared it to the Clásica San Sebastián, which he won with a long-range solo attack in 2019.
“It’s hard, very hard,” he said. “There is hardly any flat right off the bat – only at the lake. The rest is uphill or downhill. Then there’s the heat and the distance, of course – 10 km neutralized then 234 km. You can actually compare it to the Clásica San Sebastián route – a long climb in the middle and some steep climbs in the end – but the longer it is a route that I prefer anyway.
“If Wout survives anything, we will have to cover up to 200 meters from the finish and from there it is up to him to decide. Mikuni Pass will be the starting or stopping point for him. slope is steep for someone who weighs 75 kg. This can be a deciding factor as there are 20% sections. I compare this climb to Mortirolo but shorter. After 200 km it will be difficult to run there. “
Evenepoel said he had personally done everything he could to be in top form for the Olympics, although he had not run for a month. However, given the long comeback from his fractured pelvis last summer, he said he was not sure if he would reach his best form of 2020 for the race, adding that it could happen later in the day. year or even next year.
“We will see on Saturday how good I am. I have done everything to be in the best possible condition at the start. The feeling is OK – I feel quite fresh. I have completed my last difficult training today and now. I’m gonna recover for two days, then hopefully I have good legs on Saturday You can have a good day, but the heat can change that very quickly. It will be all or nothing.
“Sad to say, but I’m using this season to look for the best level I had before last fall. Will it happen now, or at the European Championships or the World Championships, or in Lombardy , or maybe next season? I will I have to accept it, but I leave nothing to chance. But my body has to give me the green light. The accident will be a year behind me on August 15th and I have already won two races. I did not expect that. “