A team time, three summit finishes, and the Evenepoel earthquake has already scattered the competition beyond the minute. And again, only Enric Mas (+ 1’12”) and Primoz Roglic (+ 1’53”) are 2’30” behind. They are even more than six to accuse less than five minutes of disbursements on the Belgian prodigy. Without betting all your savings on it, we can legitimately think that the gaps will widen at the end of this Tuesday’s time trial, drawn around Alicante (30.9 km). The opportunity for Remco to deal a final blow to the rest of the favourites? We lent ourselves to the game of predictions.
Enric Mas (2nd, + 1’12”)
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The Spaniard (Movistar) is not a bad rider, but still lacks solid references in the discipline on the big laps. During the last Dauphiné, Mas distinguished himself with a 19th place in a time trial with a profile substantially identical to that which he will take on Tuesday (rather flat, 31.9 km). All while intercalating between two specialists, Rémi Cavagna (18th) and Luis Leon Sanchez (21st).
The Mallorcan, like a good number of Iberian cyclists, has the gift of surpassing himself on the fiery roads of the Vuelta. During the previous edition, which finished in 2nd place overall, Mas signed two top 15s, including a 9th position during the last stage, on a course, certainly demanding, leading to the heights of Saint-Jacques-de- Compostela.
- Our bet : Between 1’30” and 2’00” drop on Evenepoel
Primoz Roglic (3rd, + 1’53”)
The references, he has them. But the question is elsewhere. Easy at Laguardia on a short and intense effort, the Slovenian (Jumbo-Visma) worried when the percentages spread over the kilometers. Still not completely recovered from his back injuries picked up in the Tour de France, Roglic is unlikely to play in the same court as Evenepoel on Tuesday, although he could be the only one of his pursuers below the minute in Alicante. Winner this year of the prologue of the Tour of the Basque Country, the triple holder of the Vuelta did not come out of the top 8 in 2022 in the exercise.
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Like Mas, the frame of the race in red suits the Slovenian, victorious over the two chronometric efforts of the 2021 edition. A surplus of motivation, 24 hours spent in the cool: enough to touch the hope of see Roglic scrap with Evenepoel? A pitfall of choice, however, stands in front of the Olympic champion in title of the specialty: the dazzling form of Remco, guided by a youth not sorry to swallow up success without kindness.
- Our bet : Between 30” and 1’00” granted to Evenepoel
Carlos Rodriguez (4th, + 2’33”)
Here is the second head of the Iberian Cerberus, supposed to crown a runner from the peninsula again over a three-week event. Alejandro Valverde towards retirement and Alberto Contador already decked out in the sporting director’s shirt (EOLO-Kometa), the (constitutional) monarchy is still looking for a new king, fed on the grain of versatility. Exiled since his majority in the British formation INEOS Grenadiers, Rodriguez (21 years old) made his classes in the best place to build his potential as a complete runner.
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The Andalusian is not a round in the solo exercise: a 2nd place on the Tour de l’Avenir, a victory on the time trial of the Tour of Britain and a 25th place in the world championships. Flat, this honor roll dates from 2021. This season, the dynamic is more scattered, less linear. 40th in the time trial of the Tour of the Basque Country, Rodriguez reacted to the Spanish championship, with a 4th place won ahead of a certain… Juan Ayuso (7th).
- Our bet : Between 1’00” and 1’30” loss on Evenepoel.
Juan Ayuso (5th, + 2’36”)
There it is, the nugget to which a whole people clings. Younger than Rodriguez (19), just as promising, if not more, Juan Ayuso (UAE Emirates) captures all the burning hopes of a people tired of waiting his turn again, he who was rocked in amid successes in recent decades. Untouchable among juniors, impregnable in the midst of hopes, the Catalan has put his yoke on the Giro U23, enquiring three victories (out of ten stages) and swallowing up all the distinctive jerseys.
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An ogre’s appetite and the promise of shining on the big laps, which the youngest of this 77th edition is already striving to do. Among the pros, Ayuso did not suffer from any complex, signing three top 10 times in the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné. At 19, that classifies you as a runner. Second of the favorites at the top of the dreadful climb of the Praeres, Ayuso surfs on a youth defying time, but until when?
- Our bet : Between 1’00” and 1’30” of disbursements on the red jersey
Simon Yates (6th, + 3’08”)
He is surely the one who has the most to lose on Tuesday, on a completely flat route which in no way matches the qualities of the lanky Englishman, winner of the 2018 edition. Adam’s twin brother is not, however, the more clumsy in the exercise, even winning his Warholian quarter of an hour on the 2nd stage of the last Giro, in the streets of Budapest.
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Shortly before, the Briton had placed fifth in the Paris-Nice time trial, but the climb to Montluçon served the BikeExhange – Jayco climber. On Tuesday, the profile will call for power and watts that Yates will lack. The wind could also dampen its emaciated envelope. In sum, Yates can expect to make a few places, and to lose big.
- Our bet : Between 2’00” and 2’30” disbursements on Evenepoel
Joao Almeida (7th, + 4’32”)
Less festive than on the Tour de Burgos (2nd overall), the tireless Portuguese rider did not manage to use his smooth rhythm with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker to follow the best climbers of this Vuelta. Tired, almost unrecognizable, Joao Almeida (UAE Emirates) gradually suffered a downgrade within the Emirati team, to the profile of the insolent Ayuso.
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It must be said that the Portuguese road champion is not having the season of his life, far from it. Two victories, only one top 10 on the chronometric effort: the 2022 vintage is not a great vintage for the one who had revealed himself on the unruly macadam of the Giro, in 2020 (4th overall). Out of form, Almeida should not suddenly find his letters of nobility against the clock. From there to expect a poor performance from the Portuguese, there is only one step.
- Our bet : Between 1’00” and 1’30” behind Evenepoel
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