‘I’m not in my best shape yet’: Remco Evenepoel obliterates stage five time trial to seal Volta ao Algarve victory

The young Belgian impressed once again as he takes the biggest stage race win of his career so far

Remco Evenepoel beat world TT champion Rohan Dennis to win the stage five time trial at the Volta ao Algarve to also seal the overall victory.

The 20-year-old beat Dennis by 10 seconds, with Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) in third, to clinch his second stage race win of the year after emerging victorious at the Vuelta a San Juan earlier in the month.

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Evenepoel crossed the line just behind Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), who had set off two minutes before the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider. His time was a new fastest for this course, which has been used in the Portuguese race for the past three years.

Geraint Thomas (Ineos) finish in 25 minutes, 51 seconds slower than when he won this time trial stage in the 2018 edition.

Evenepoel finished 38 seconds ahead of Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) on GC, with Miguel Ángel López (Astana) in third, one second slower.

Speaking after the finish, Evenepoel said: “I’m really happy, I knew it was just 20km full gas and I started quite fast and then I knew in the hilly sections I had to recover well so that’s what I did. I just went all out, the communication with the car was perfect, I knew every corner, every hole in the road. I’m very happy.”

Asked if this sends a message to his rivals ahead of the Giro d’Italia in May, Evenepoel said he’s just focusing on his own goals and that he doesn’t think he’s in his best shape yet, which inadvertently will send a rather scary message to those who will line up against him in Budapest in May.

“No, no, that’s not my goal. I’m only working hard for my own goals. I’m working hard for two months time, I’m not in the best shape yet but I still have time, still a long way to go but I’m already happy with where I’m at now,” Evenepoel said.

Remco Evenepoel wins stage five of the Volta ao Algarve 2020 (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

How it happened

Jasha Sütterlin (Sunweb) set an early fastest time of 25-02 before UAE Team Emirates’ Mikkel Berg was the first to break the 25-minute barrier with 24-59. Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) then went six seconds faster but knew his time in the hot seat would be brief.

That was because world time trial champion Rohan Dennis (Ineos) was coming into the finish, setting a new fastest time of 24-17.

Swiss time trial champion Stefan Küng would come fairly close to besting the Australian, after setting the fastest time at the time check he eventually finished in 24-26, nine seconds slower than Dennis.

Dennis’ team-mate Michał Kwiatkowski would then come through the intermediate time check only six seconds down on Küng’s time, before Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) would go one second faster than the Swiss rider.

Geraint Thomas then rolled across the line in 25-00, enough for 12th place as he finishes his first race back after the off-season.

Kwiatkowski would finish with a stronger ride than he has provided for the rest of the week, finishing sixth with 24-46 before Nibali faded over the second half of his ride and finished with a time of 25-13.

Race leader Remco Evenepoel, and the only rider likely to trouble Dennis, went 15 seconds quicker than Küng at the intermediate time check.

Miguel Ángel López (Astana) posted a respectable 24-45 to guarantee his spot on the podium, but Max Schachmann beat him by the smallest of margins so the German defended his second spot on GC.

Evenepoel soared into the finish, nearly catching Dan Martin, as he powered across the line having beaten the world time trial champion by 10 seconds.

Results

Volta ao Algarve 2020, stage five: Lagoa to Lagoa (ITT – 20.3km)

1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 24-07
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos, at 10 seconds
3. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 19s
4. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 38s
5. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana
6. Michał Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos
7. Patrick Bevin (NZl) CCC, all at same time
8. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 46s
9. Nils Politt (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 47s
10. Mads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 48s

Final general classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 19-23-42
2. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 38 seconds
3. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 39s
4. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 56s
5. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 1-17
6. Simon Geschke (Ger) CCC, at 1-18
7. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-26
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-31
9. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-40
10. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52 / FC Porto, at 1-57