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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Evenepoel wins the Clásica de San Sebastián by crushing

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Cycling fans are promiscuous. Members of the Alessandro Covi fan club walk around, with Puma de Taino banners, tricolor wigs and since they are there and their cyclist isn’t riding the classic, they take photos with every Italian rider who passes by after checking companies. What if Nibali telling them he will win, what if Cataldo. Even some Portuguese, like Rui Costa, stop and take photos in the middle of the boulevard, full of tourists lugging suitcases and people from San Sebastian trying to avoid the inconvenience of a crowded event.

Passing by, José Miguel Echavarri, a little older than when he ran a cycling empire that culminated with Indurain, albeit just as wisely, and accompanies him, two steps behind, like someone who knows his place, Francis Lafargue, the Basque from Biarritz La Negerin, next to the train station that accompanied him in the adventure for decades. They go unnoticed because cycling is in younger hands today than it was in its glory days, and few even recognize Raúl Alcalá, the 1992 winner, under the downpour and car headlights on the day Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who never existed, turned pro and in his arrogance thought he was going to win. He finished last.

People know the youngsters better and shout “Remco, Remco!” when Evenepoel walks down the grand avenue or walks up it, first on his way to his bus, then to the exit where he greets Valverde, who receives a levy. Later, five and a half hours later, it will be him who asks the fans crowded behind the fences to chant his name. He encourages them with his arms, puts his hand to his ear to listen, and then in his gestural gesture raises two fingers and points to the pavement: “Twice here,” in San Sebastián, Alpha and Omega; the scene of his first great victory, that of his last, likely to be followed by many more.

A triumph by annihilation, with no palliatives for his rivals if he had any; brutal spectacular Evenepoel, 45 kilometers to go when the peloton mounted Erlaitz and Tadej Pogacar was no longer in the group, mentally disconnected from the race when the group mounted Jaizkibel, the traditional supporter of the Clásica. He stayed there to chat with his team’s car while he let Quick Step do the work and set up the race for him, lap after lap, as the Belgian phenom that only Simon Yates could follow but less than likes a kilometer because over By the time Evenepoel reached the top, the Briton had already lost sight of him and the Belgian had won the classic.

More than half a minute in Erlaitz, 1.01 m in Rentería. Pedaling, a devastating pace, Evenepoel didn’t give a single millimeter on the flat and every time the road turned uphill the difference was between Sivakov and Carlos Rodríguez, the Spanish champions, the Ineos duo trying the eternal widening chasm.

Upstairs at Miracruz, where Arzak’s guests, who turns 80 on Sunday, take a break from the after-dinner table and lean out the door, the difference remained stable: even as the bell rang on San Sebastian Boulevard, and increased when the road narrowed at the junction to Igeldo due to its steep gradient.

It only remained to know who would be second, who would accompany the phenomenon with the consolation prizes, because Evenepoel also won the one for the mountains, the one for the special sprints and of course the one for the best youngster, which he will win for a few more years . .

Rodríguez gave way in the last ramps and overtook the witness an Sivakov, more than two minutes at the head of Murgil Tontorra, packed like the Kapelmuur of the Tour of Flanders, like the redoubt in Liège; Benoot overtook the Spaniard from behind; Mollema would do it at the finish line too. Meanwhile Evenepoel carefully descended to Ondarreta beach, on his way to arrival, to the mass bath on the boulevard where, as in Liège, he could celebrate his victory by crushing to his heart’s content. Then, after 44 kilometers alone, he got off his bike, switched off the heart rate monitor and smiled. “Now I’m a more complete runner than I was three years ago, I’m two kilos lighter but I’m just as explosive. And now I’m going to manage Burgos and after that I’ll need 15 days to do a couple of barbecues.”

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Source elpais.com

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