A seemingly regular stage for Vuelta a España chief Remco Evenepoel (Fast Step-AlphaVinyl) led to excessive drama as main rival Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) made a dramatic late assault, solely to crash closely, whereas the Belgian himself had a puncture within the finale.
Evenepoel’s late puncture occurred virtually on the identical time that Roglic attacked however, because it got here contained in the three-kilometre ‘security zone’, he was capable of proceed at his personal tempo to the road.
Throughout an preliminary press huddle on the line, Belgian performed down the concept his puncture won’t have really occurred, saying “no one can say something. I am not a man who’s going to pretend such issues.”
He additionally expressed concern for crash sufferer Roglic, saying “I spoke with him within the dressing rooms and requested if he was OK. I believe he was groggy and was going to hospital.”
Though he was initially timed at practically 5 minutes down, by the point he reached the road, a race communique confirmed that each he and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), additionally caught up by a race incident late on, got the identical eight-second hole to the successful group containing Roglic.
Given the puncture, Evenepoel had a comparatively lengthy wait on the end till the organisation lastly confirmed his ongoing management, however he insisted that he had been nicely positioned and wished to struggle for the win when it occurred.
“We have been combating for place, I used to be sitting not on the entrance, but in addition not on the again, simply in the course of the group,” Evenepoel mentioned of the quick climb the place Roglic attacked.
“I felt actually good, I additionally wished to struggle for the stage win, however I had a flat tyre on the again. I felt instantly that the grip was going. I needed to change it.”
Evenepoel mentioned that it had been lucky that he had been within the final three kilometres, “and never at 5 kilometres to go when there was a quick downhill and quite a lot of roundabouts. I believe after my dangerous luck of earlier days, now I get some good luck.”
Impromptu interpretations of the yin and yang of motorcycle racing however, Evenepoel added that when he punctured, though the crew had used the remaining day to recon the ultimate 15 kilometres of the stage his stress ranges had risen significantly.
Chatting with French language reporters, he added that “I wasn’t positive if there was the 3km rule. However in the long run, Klaas [Lodewyck, sports director] instructed me over the radio that there was, in order that reassured me and calmed me a bit bit.”
He additionally added that he had no thought what Roglic had been doing when he punctured, simply that he was entering into place to answer assaults. His concern had been extra that he was afraid of dropping the lead due to his uncertainty concerning the three-kilometer rule and in consequence “I panic a bit bit earlier than that.”.
As for Roglic, Evenepoel expressed repeated concern that he hoped the Slovenian was OK. A sufferer of a really dangerous crash in Il Lombardia two years in the past, he added that “it is by no means good when it’s important to depart the race due to an accident.”
A hypothetical absence of Roglic from the race would arguably depart it bereft of what was going to be a spectacular showdown between the Belgian and the Slovenian. If Roglic’s late assault on stage 16 proved something, it was that the Jumbo-Visma racer was going to take each likelihood on provide to try to go for a fourth total win.
Evenepoel, in any case, continues onwards in his personal battle to win his first Grand Tour. After the fraught occasions of stage 16, Evenepoel expects stage 17, with a second class uphill end, to be comparatively simple, earlier than stage 18’s uphill end at El Piornal might show a harder problem.
“I recovered nicely from the final weekend and I believe I can begin the final week with confidence. Let’s hope we will maintain combating all the way in which to Madrid.”