Evenepoel has taken a liking to the breeze of La Concha. San Sebastián is almost her second home. the Gipuzkoan capital that this year has hosted the Clásica, the women’s Itzulia and two stages of the Tour. He has won three times, so he equals Lejarreta in the list of winners, who has presented him with the winner’s txapela today. Collect the 2019, 2022 and 2023 editions. And the impression is that he will head the podium more times. His power is demonstrated in the fact that he has caused the cut and has thrown almost everyone out of the wheel uphill and, not content with that, has certified the victory in the final sprint. His armor impresses him: he is wide, very wide, although he seems overweight, he is pure muscle, he escapes the ‘sucked up’ profile of many colleagues. Eight world champions have won the Classic, but only Remco can boast of having done so with the rainbow jersey, the one that he will defend in a few days in Glasgow. And that everything started crooked: he fell on the neutralized course. He was treated by medics on a wrist and rejoined the peloton shortly after.
Some time ago there were those who compared him with his compatriot Merckx, big words, the ‘Cannibal’ continues to devour even possible successors, it is impossible to catch up. Remco has won many things, but the victory in Donostia was celebrated in style. With 150 meters to go, he whipped the whip and defeated Pello Bilbao in the sprint. He looked like he had good legs, a very fresh pedaling and the mission for the Biscayan was titanic. Glory goes to the Quick-Step boss, but no one takes the applause from Bilbao, who comes from the Tour very punished, a few hours before the holidays, and beat the copper to the last gram of strength, although he had nothing to do.
All eyes were on Evenepoel, at the beginning of his triple defense: the reign in the Clásica, the World Championship and La Vuelta. For now, one by one. He handled the Klásikoa with astonishing authority. He recovered the 2019 profile, with two passes through Murgil, and that edition has already risen to the throne, so the plans to take the txapela were his. Jaizkibel and Erlaitz were far away, but the Quick-Step rider did not want to wait. Like last year, he started in Erlaitz, this time still with 63 kilometers to go. 50 meters from the top, he jerked and went straight for the finish line. He was followed by Pello Bilbao and Vlasov, his companions in fatigue for a few kilometers. Gall and Landa tried to chase them up Mendizorrotz, they came within a minute and a half, but a little later those in front did nothing more than widen the gap. The three agreed to arrive and Evenepoel rubbed his hands.
The Spanish ‘armada’ promised to fight, but was paralyzed by the power of a great cyclist. The youngsters Carlos Rodríguez and Juan Ayuso were unable to establish themselves as the threats they claimed to be within the peloton. At the start of the second climb to Murgil, Evenepoel took over. At 580 from the top, Bilbao forced to leave Vlasov and everything ended in a one-on-one. In the first ascent to a real wall, he turns to the left and in the subsequent one, to the right, towards the Boulevard. Bilbao was able to hold on to the rear of the Belgian and after crowning, he took the lead to lead the descent of Igeldo. They already knew that victory would fall to one of the two. They took turns in the ‘curveo’ at five kilometers to finish. With a kilometer and a half to go, Evenepoel clutched his cleats, as if he were sharpening the knife to plunge into his heroic rival. His exit in the one-on-one was like a shot. Vlasov arrived at almost half a minute and Powles, the winner in 2021, the only one who has inscribed his name in the Klasikoa list of winners since 2018 outside of Remco, led the rosary of cyclists who arrived packed.
The race did not have much more history. Lotto, Quick Step and Bahrain set the pace at the start. The day’s breakaway was made up of five men: Bonnamour (ACT), Bardet (DSM), Bernard (LTK), Van Hooydonck (TJV) and Iturria (EUS). It was formed when there are still 190 kilometers of the 230.3 of the route. They amassed more than five minutes when there were still 120 to go. But climbing Jaizikibel, 100 from Donostia, just where the difficult part of the race began, Bonnamour stayed in the leading group and the peloton reduced the gap to two minutes from the top. Bardet and Van Hooydonck took the lead on the descent. Then Evenepoel, Vlasov, Bettiol and Bilbao jumped. The first step towards the throne for Evenepoel. The King of San Sebastian. He has character and is a thoroughbred. His cycling is huge.
1. EVENEPOEL Remco Soudal – Quick Step 5:30:59
2. BILBAO Pello Bahrain – Victorious mt
3. VLASOV Aleksandr BORA – hansgrohe at 0:28
4. POWLESS Neilson EF Education-EasyPost at 2:50
5. IZAGIRRE Ion Cofidis at 2:57