Remco Evenepoel says it's starting to feel like Belgians aren't allowed to be time trial world champion after they were beating into second place for the third year in a row.
In 2019, Evenepoel finished runner-up to Rohan Dennis in Yorkshire before Wout van Aert claimed silver in Imola last year behind Filippo Ganna. Today in Bruges, Van Aert was 20 seconds closer to the Italian's time but still six short of taking the rainbow bands. Evenepoel was third, 36 seconds slower than his compatriot.
"I think I can be happy with what I did today," Evenepoel estimated after the finish. "I knew on this course I had to ride the perfect time trial and that’s what I did, I knew after the first intermediate point Wout and Filippo were going strong and would have a bigger lead in the end and that’s what happened.
"I wanted to be on the podium but not second and third. But if Filippo is competing it’s going to be hard to beat him. It’s been three years we’ve been second in the TT champs and it feels like we’re not allowed to be world champion."
Evenepoel replicated his bronze medal from the European Championships 10 days ago and after his silver in the Euros road race, as well as a hatful of other victories this year, the 21-year-old feels he's now pushing even better numbers than before his crash at Il Lombardia last year.
"I think with the performances over the last weeks I'm really pushing my best power again," he explained. "Even better than before my crash in Lombardia.
"Today I could really push all the way, I could not go faster, if I had started faster I would have blown up and wouldn’t have been able to push later. If you are third behind the two [current] best riders on the time trial bike you can only be happy and proud. And especially on a flat course I could not do better. I feel happy and it feels good to push like this again."
Evenepoel's third place was anything but assured, as his Deceuninck - Quick-Step team-mate Kasper Asgreen looked to be going close but eventually ended up in fourth, two seconds short.
"It was quite scary thinking I was going to lose the third place and personally it feels like a victory," Evenepoel said.
"It was quite a stressful moment because I was fighting for the third spot and saw the bell for my team-mate Wout for the first spot, I was there [in the hot seat] for 40 minutes without any stress but the last 10 were really stressful, I probably lost some years there, it was quite a belter in the end, two seconds isn’t much but it was just enough."
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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