'It was life and death in the wheel': Remco Evenepoel blasts Vuelta a España team time trial

The defending champion claimed that he and his teammates could barely see where they riding

Soudal Quick-Step
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel has hit out at the organisers of the Vuelta a España after the opening stage team time trial in Barcelona was ridden under dark skies and through unlit streets.

Predicted thunderstorms materialised in the Catalan city, and Soudal Quick-Step and Evenepoel didn't cross the line until 20:37 local time - one minute after sunset with the daylight long since faded.

Although Evenepoel was the best-placed general classification rider, finishing six seconds adrift of the surprising winners DSM-Firmenich, the Belgian was furious with the decision of the race organisers, Unipublic and ASO, to start the race so late in the day.

"What I want to say is, look, all of you guys have to put lights on your cameras which means that it's dark," he told assembled media at the end in English. "Imagine if you're sitting in the wheel, getting water in your face, not seeing one metre in front of you, it's just super dangerous.

"For sure tomorrow everyone will criticise me for saying this, but it's just dangerous. It's like riding your car at 200km/h on the highway in full darkness without any lights." 

Asked if he wanted the stage to be neutralised, he said: "Not really. Just know that it can be dark at night. You have the whole day to do a TTT. We had to wait the whole day when it was dry. Rain is rain, we cannot change that, but we can change the circumstances that we are racing in. 

"We have to know we go on the limit, it's a race, we want to win so we already risk a lot, but then with all the factors that it's super dark, and super sketchy on these roads. In my eyes it's just ridiculous.

"Today what the organisation should know is that it's just dangerous and that they should think about safety. It's just a shame. It effects everybody: all of the GC teams went super slow as you couldn't see anything.  You couldn't race at 100%. It's just strange that they let us race in the dark like this."

Speaking to Dutch media, he added: "You know in advance that it will be dark. You can't do anything about the rain, but you can do something about the lighting. This was dangerous. It was life and death in the wheel."

The second stage also finishes in Barcelona and may similarly be affected by heavy rain.

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.