Primoz Roglic beats Evenepoel in the opening time trial Tour of the Basque Country

Primoz Roglic beats Evenepoel in the opening time trial Tour of the Basque Country

Monday 4 April 2022 at 17:32

Primož Roglič has won the preliminary time trial of the Tour of the Basque Country. The Slovenian from Jumbo-Visma was the last to set a time in Hondarribia and had to go particularly deep to dive under the time of a strong Remco Evenepoel, but did so after a strong final phase. Roglič is of course also the first leader.

The Tour of the Basque Country started today with a short but difficult individual time trial of 7.5 kilometers. This is where the first differences could arise in the general classification. At the beach of Hondarribia the time started to run and then the riders were sent over a few short climbs towards the finish. With Remco Evenepoel, Pello Bilbao, Julian Alaphilippe, Daniel Felipe Martínez, Jonas Vingegaard and Sergio Higuita, there were several candidate stage winners at the start. However, the top favorite for the stage win was Primož Roglič, who was the last to set a time as defending champion.

INEOS Grenadiers strong in width
Colombian Daniel Alejandro Mendez, riding for Equipo Kern Pharma, was the first to roll off the starting podium. However, Mendez did not qualify for the stage victory. Ben Tulett, on the other hand, was doing very well. The young Briton of INEOS Grenadiers, who recently took his first professional victory in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, set the first target time with 10m09s. Tulett had no illusions, however, knowing that the real guns were yet to come. His teammate Adam Yates, for example, still had to trickle in: the Briton managed to raise the bar even higher with a time of 10m06s.

Yates was good for a very sharp time at the finish, but his teammate Geraint Thomas showed not much later that it could be even faster near Hondarribia. The 2018 British Tour winner got off to a very slow start this season, but has now picked up the upward trend and it showed in this short time trial. Thomas soon had a good rhythm, managed to get through the technical passages unscathed and turned out to be good for the top time at the finish. The difference with Yates was very narrow, but the British all-rounder managed to dive below the time of his compatriot by sixteen hundredths of a second.

Rémi Cavagna heading for a strong time – photo: Cor Vos

Cavagna dives under the time of Thomas
Thomas reached out to a (possible) stage victory, but the Brit was not yet certain. Aleksandr Vlasov was also well on his way, but the classification leader of BORA-hansgrohe was 23 hundredths of a second short of Thomas at the finish. Then we had to wait for the arrival of Rémi Cavagna. The French time trial specialist of Quick-Step Alpa Vinyl certainly didn’t get an ideal course, with a few short climbs and technical passages, but that didn’t bother the Frenchman in the least. In fact, at the finish, Cavagna turned out to be just two seconds faster than Thomas.

The riders who came into action after Cavagna, think of David Gaudu, Emanuel Buchmann and Carlos Rodriguez, bit their teeth on the Frenchman’s time. And Julian Alaphilippe, who is making his comeback in the Tour of the Basque Country after a corona infection, did not appear in the piece due to a bicycle change and crossed the finish line shaking his head. Jonas Vingegaard was the next entry. The Dane, who was second in the final standings last year, managed to keep the damage more than limited with a time of 10m08s (+4 seconds on Cavagna) and thus to keep his chances of the overall victory intact.

Evenepoel vs Roglič
Only Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič seemed to be able to threaten Cavagna for the stage victory. Evenepoel, who was not very enthusiastic about the time trial before the start, took off like a rocket and turned out to be no less than eight seconds faster at the only intermediate point than the next at the measuring point, the British Adam Yates. Evenepoel got off to a furious start, continued his effort towards the finish and was the first rider under ten minutes with a time of 9m53s. The Belgian from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl turned out to be no less than eleven seconds faster than his teammate Cavagna. Was this enough for the win?

Evenepoel took a shot at stage win – photo: Cor Vos

Roglič had meanwhile also left and managed to approach Evenepoel’s fast split time. The Slovenian defending champion gave half a second to his Belgian rival at the only measuring point, but was certainly not eliminated for the stage victory. What followed was a nail-biting final in the streets of Hondarribia. Roglič certainly had no intention of resigning himself to a possible force majeure of Evenepoel and did not shy away from the risks in the many sharp bends and spicy descents. Roglič managed to shake a fabulous second part from his legs and bent his deficit into a lead of no less than five seconds.

An exceptionally strong Roglič starts his hunt for a third overall victory in the Tour of the Basque Country with a victory. He will of course also be able to cycle around in the leader’s jersey tomorrow. Evenepoel has to settle for second place in the day’s results, Cavagna, Thomas and Adam Yates complete the top-5.