Remco Evenepoel started his season at the Vuelta a San Juan, but it is at the UAE Tour that he will have his first goal. The World Champion is looking to test his climbing form and achieve victories this upcoming week in the Middle East, and his coach states that he is ready.
“Without an individual time trial and with one mountain stage at extreme altitude, we knew that a stage or overall win in San Juan would be a difficult story," Evenepoel's coach Koen Pelgrim told Het Laatste Nieuws. Evenepoel rode to a seventh place in Argentina to open up his season, a modest result in what was his first race in the rainbow jersey in 2023.
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“His condition was certainly not bad, but at that height the Colombians had the advantage. In the past, Miguel Ángel López has also defeated al Pogačar and Roglič in the Tour at 2,500 meters above sea level. In principle Remco was therefore, apart from that one tactical mistake, satisfied with his course," he continued. "The reason he started his season in San Juan was to get into rhythm without pressure, away from the spotlight in Europe. We succeeded.”
Now, despite having moved away from Belgium, he chooses not to continue his season in Europe, instead travelling to the UAE Tour. There he will have four flat stages, a team time-trial and two summit finishes at Jebel Jais and Jebel Hafeet, as is traditional every year.
After San Juan he's had a period of intense training and he is hoping that his form is superior to that that saw him defeated three weeks ago at the Alto Colorado.
“It's different in the UAE Tour. He wants to measure himself in the Emirates with the other top riders. Remco is not used to coming home after a stage race without a stage win or overall victory. He always wants to win. He's going to the UAE Tour to get results and he's ready for that now," Pelgrim continues.
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There he will face he likes of Pello Bilbao, Sepp Kuss, but most crucially UAE Team Emirates. Despite Tadej Pogacar's absence, the home team starts with the stupendous treble of Jay Vine, Adam Yates and Brandon McNulty who position themselves as the main favourites for the overall classification.
“It might be a bit of a shame that he doesn't start. Pogačar is always a benchmark in the UAE Tour, but even without him the field is very strong," Pelgrium admits. "Take Adam Yates, who won in 2020 and was Pogačar's uphill counterpart in 2021 and 2022. Yates has been riding for Team UAE since this year, so he will be extra motivated."
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Evenepoel's coach concludes with what will be Evenpoel's plans for the upcoming months as he prepares for the Giro d'Italia. “After the UAE Tour, there will be a first altitude training camp in Tenerife, followed by a second one after the Volta a Catalunya.
"We deliberately wait with those altitude training sessions because we still want to have a margin towards the Giro, both in terms of training intensity and in terms of weight, but he is certainly reaching a good level now," he concluded.