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Remco Evenepoel on Finishing Second in Paris-Nice: “For sure I should be happy”

By Monica Buck

Following his second-place finish in Paris-Nice, Remco Evenepoel chose to linger in Nice, contemplating his overall performance during the prestigious cycling event. The aftermath of the race saw him undertaking two laps of the challenging 34km Monaco to Nice time trial, a stage that will ultimately determine the winner of the upcoming Tour de France in July.

Evenepoel experienced success during the race in France but couldn’t escape a sense of regret. Despite being regarded as the strongest rider in the competition, he conceded the top spot to Matteo Jorgenson after deciding not to pursue the American’s attack on stage 6. Evenepoel lost 52 seconds to Jorgenson that day, a setback that weighed heavily on his overall standing.

In the final stage around the Nice hills on a rainy Sunday, Evenepoel and Jorgenson showcased their dominance, leaving all rivals behind. Evenepoel claimed victory in the stage, but it was Jorgenson who seized the coveted yellow jersey from Brandon McNulty. Evenepoel secured second place overall, trailing by 30 seconds, with McNulty coming in third at 1:47, also claiming the green points jersey, the polka-dot mountains jersey, and the combativity prize.

Reflecting on his performance, Evenepoel expressed mixed emotions, saying, “For sure I should be happy.” Acknowledging the high level of competition among the General Classification contenders, he highlighted the positive aspects of his week, including a stage win, podium finish, and overall positive team morale. However, he couldn’t ignore the regret stemming from Friday’s stage, where his General Classification hopes slipped away.

Admitting Jorgenson’s deserved victory, Evenepoel remarked, “The two of us were the strongest men in the race this week. On Friday, he made the right choice and I made the wrong one. So nothing to complain about.”

Looking ahead to the Tour de France in four months, Evenepoel expressed optimism, stating that he is gradually building for the anticipated showdown with riders like Tadej Pogacar, Jonas Vingegaard, and Primoz Roglic. His next challenge is the Itzulia Basque Country from April 1-6, where he will face Vingegaard and Roglič, as Pogačar focuses on Milan-San Remo and the Volta a Catalunya.

Despite acknowledging that he is not yet at his best, Evenepoel emphasized his upward trajectory, anticipating improvement in the upcoming races, including the Basque Country and the Ardennes classics. He revealed the team’s decision to forgo an altitude training camp this spring, with plans to incorporate it before the Tour de France.

Having already scouted the opening Italian stages of the Tour de France, Evenepoel plans to analyze the hilly 20th stage from Nice to the Col de la Couillole on Tuesday, depending on weather conditions. Choosing to skip Milan-San Remo, he will head to his Spanish home near Calpe for another training block as he continues his preparation for the challenges ahead.