Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič must be well used to one another’s company by now. There was already precious little to separate them at the Volta a Catalunya last month and they continued to live in lockstep as they continued their Giro d’Italia preparations at altitude afterwards.
These days, the most exclusive lodging in professional cycling is to be found in the Hotel Parador in Tenerife. There are other options for altitude training, of course, but Mount Teide has long been the outpost of choice, and so the two Giro favourites found themselves taking up residence there at the same time earlier this month.
Every morning, the Soudal-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma entourages would sit at opposite ends of the dining room before heading out for their day’s work under the volcano. The ritual would repeat itself each evening.
“In the breakfast and dinner room, I had to pass their table to go to my table, so every morning and every evening, it was ‘good morning’ and ‘goodnight,’” Evenepoel smiled last week. “In the day, we didn’t see them a lot, because the training was quite different.”
They will see plenty more of each other out on the road at the 2023 Giro, a race that at this remove has all the appearances of a prize fight between Roglič and Evenepoel, and a reprise of their interrupted contest from last year’s Vuelta a España.
When the Giro d’Italia route was unveiled in Milan in October, the map showed some 70km of time trialling, including two flat tests in the opening week. In other words, it was a route that seemed to double as a come-and-get-me plea to the newly minted world champion Evenepoel.
The Belgian didn’t take long to heed the call, formally confirming the open secret of his Giro participation in November, by which point he was already busily reconnoitering parts of the route. Evenepoel, those close to him say, relishes the methodical steps of a long-term project, and this, his second tilt at the Giro, has been planned along strikingly similar lines to his successful Vuelta a España build-of up last year.
The omens are encouraging. Last summer, Evenepoel took time out of his altitude training to send an ominous pre-Vuelta message at the Clásica San Sebastián, a warning echoed at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. Lest there were any doubts, the 23-year-old is on schedule for the Grande Partenza.
But then so too is Roglič, despite rumours to the contrary last winter. The crash that ended the Slovenian’s…
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