It could be at the Giro d’Italia race headquarters, or as they wait for their names to be called out at the team presentation or even just before they roll down the stage 1 time trial start ramp this weekend.
But wherever the two headline contenders of the 2023 Giro d’Italia actually first cross paths in this year’s race, Primož Roglič and Remco Evenepoel‘s most recent encounters were much more frequent and not nearly as glamorous as you could perhaps imagine.
For a hefty percentage of the month of April, in fact, Roglič and Evenepoel were both holed up in the Mount Teide Parador hotel in the Canary Islands for altitude training. Every morning, as Roglič recalls, and most evenings, as the two diligently laid the daily bricks of the foundations of their 2023 Giro d’Italia bids, they would briefly see each other en route to the restaurant or in the buffet queue itself and greet each other. Then they’d head on.
To judge from the way he’s grinning when he discusses these chance encounters, Roglič – still on Teide when he gives this interview, two days after Evenepoel has conquered Liège-Bastogne-Liège for a second time – can see there’s a funny, if slightly surreal, side to them.
After all, as Roglič knows very well, when the two roll down the start ramp in the Fossacesia Marina to kick off the Giro d’Italia in less than a week’s time, they’ll be fighting for rather more than the last piece of lettuce or cucumber in the Teide Parador salad bar.
“We’d see each other in the mornings and then some dinners,” Roglič recalls, in an interview where his flashes of quiet, laconic humour shine through as much as the seriousness with which he’s taking his second Giro d’Italia GC bid, and his chance to take his fourth Grand Tour.
“But on the road, when we were training, we were ‘hiding’ from each other, we were each training by ourselves.” Then he deadpans: “We’ll see enough of each other over the next three weeks.”
Nor were there any ‘friendly’ games of table tennis or cards in the hotel lounge between the two top rivals to while away the long, tedious evenings on the Canary Islands volcano, he said: “No, no, it’s all focus, focus at these camps. It’s all train-travel-repeat.”
So disappointingly – at least for the media – neither Roglič nor Evenepoel made any attempt to out-psyche each other off the bike prior to the main event in May, despite multiple opportunities for psychological warfare in the Canaries. This was confirmed by Evenepoel, too, who…
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