Julian Alaphilippe and Remco Evenepoel have spoken about their chances at the upcoming final Monument of the 2021 season, Il Lombardia.
While the third of the Italian Autumn Classics, Tre Valli Varesine, was underway, Deceuninck - Quick-Step held a press conference with their three main leaders for Il Lombardia, which takes place on Saturday, October 9.
Evenepoel was asked about how he feels after his win at the Coppa Bernocchi on Monday, October 4 and if the awful weather will affect him at Il Lombardia.
"At the moment, physically I feel really tired because of the weather conditions, they were quite bad so it took a lot of energy out of the body," he said.
"It's important to try to recover as much as possible in the upcoming days, but it's always nice when you find some good legs just ahead of a big goal or big race and I think also for the team with the other guys we saw that everybody's in a good shape and doing well so I think we're all quite confident and looking forward for Saturday."
Upon being asked whether he had returned to the Muro di Sormano since his serious crash in the 2020 Lombardia, "no" he replied, flatly. Evenepoel added that it will take some time before he can return there.
Evenepoel suffered a serious crash on the descent of the climb in last year's edition as he was at the back of a group following Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), with Evenepoel falling off a bridge into a ravine, fracturing his pelvis and other bones.
Alaphilippe, who is racing for the first time since retaining his world title in Leuven, Belgium, comes into the race as the likely top favourite.
However, the when asked about what he did after the World Championships, he said: "After the Worlds I was really tired and when I restarted training I felt a little bit sick, so since then I have enjoyed time with family and took it easy so I was fresh for my last two races."
Alaphilippe was unstoppable at the Worlds as he put in wave after wave of attacks along with his French team-mates, from 40km out until finally one move stuck and he soloed to the line.
When asked if he felt he could win, Alaphilippe said: "I hope so, for sure. I am in good shape but the rest of the bunch here is also really strong. Lots of guys are still really motivated and are also in great shape but yeah, I am confident that we have a really strong team, we are here to do our best and we'll see what we can do."
Evenepoel was asked what his experience of watching Paris-Roubaix was and if he was inspired to race it in the future, he said: "No! It does not inspire me at all. I think I was lucky to be inside with a good hot chocolate and watching all the others suffer.
"But of course, to see a race like this, you just have to respect all the riders who did it, even the riders that didn't finish. It really was hell. So, I don't think I want to go there."
He then looked at Alaphilippe, Evenepoel then adding, "but never say never!".
Il Lombardia takes place on Saturday, October 9 over a tough hilly 239km course from Como to Bergamo, not taking in the usual climbs of Colma di Sormano, Muro di Sormano or Civiglio like in the past few editions, but a series of different climbs.
Alaphilippe, Evenepoel and Almeida will face stiff competition with former winners Nibali, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) being joined by Grand Tour stars Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
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