Tour de France Stage 7: Remco Evenepoel Has Entered the Chat

The Soudal Quick-Step Team Leader narrows the gap to Pogacar with a dominant performance in the Tour's first individual time trial. 


BY MICHAEL VENUTOLO-MANTOVANI |

Stage Winner: Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step)
General Classification Leader: Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Heading into the 2024 Tour de France’s first time-trial stage, all eyes were on Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step), who sat forty-five seconds behind Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) in the General Classification (GC) standings. As Evenepoel is the current Time Trial World Champion, this was one of the stages where he could inflict serious damage on the seemingly invincible Pogačar.

Five seconds behind Evenepoel in the overall standings was Jonas Vingegaard. Though the two-time reigning Tour champion wasn’t much known as a time trialist early in his young career, he put on a masterclass in last year’s Tour, exhibiting one of the best time trials in recent memory and immediately putting him in the echelon of greats. And we couldn’t discard Primož Roglič (Red Bull-BORA-hansgrohe), who is the current Olympic time trial champion and undoubtedly one of the world’s best time traillists.

All this, with a few wildcards thrown in, as is always the case in a time trial, made for a thrilling day.

And, in the end, it was Evenepoel who showcased his world-class time-trial skills to take the win today, finishing more than thirty-four seconds clear of his nearest competitor. Second place went to Pogačar, whose lead was reduced to thirty-three seconds, while third place was claimed by Vingegaard, delivering a solid performance just three seconds behind Roglič.

“The climb was actually pretty tough,” Evenepoel said after the race. “I wanted to start fast, but I had to keep something for the climb. I enjoyed every meter of this TT, and coming out with a win is amazing, so I’m super happy.”

Of a perceived issue with his rear tyre, Evenepoel said, “I was pretty sure I had a puncture, but maybe somebody dropped a glass, but it was the same sound as a puncture. But I had to keep going with a bit of scaredness in my head because I thought it was a slow puncture. But I had to take risks, knowing Tadej was pretty close to me. I just wanted to win today, so mission accomplished.”

How the Race Against the Clock Unfolded

The 25.3-kilometre stage from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin was mostly flat, but for one vicious little pop—a short, 1.5-kilometre climb that hovered around 7 percent—halfway through the route.

In a move that felt ceremonious, given the occasion, but was actually because he currently sits dead last in the GC standings, Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazastan) rolled down the ramp first. After a miserable first day, followed by the rollercoaster of emotions that came with chasing and eventually breaking the record for stage wins, he wore a huge smile on his face, knowing that today would be easy for him.

Stage 2’s surprise winner, Kevin Vauquelin of Arkéa-B&B Hotels, spent some time in the hot seat only to be displaced by Lotto-Dstny’s Victor Campenaerts, who bested the Frenchman by less than a second.

Visma-Lease a Bike’s super domestique Wout van Aert rolled out not long after, appearing to struggle throughout the stage. Typically a strong time triallist, it seems as though van Aert is still searching for his form in this year’s Tour.

As the riders rolled down the ramp every other minute, the hot seat got a bit hotter, with finishing times growing ever closer to Campenaerts’ 29:44:18. Then, as the Big Four started rolling out, the time checks showed his lead would definitely not stand.

Roglič was the man to unseat Campenaerts, beating him by more than seventeen seconds. Shortly after, Vingegaard crossed the line, three seconds shy of Roglič.

However, Roglič barely had a chance to warm up the hot seat, as Soudal Quick-Step’s Remco Evenepoel finished more than thirty-four seconds clear, taking over the stage lead despite riding on a what appeared to be a leaking rear tyre over the final few kilometres.

That left only Pogačar on the course. He finished twelve seconds shy of Evenepoel, reducing his overall lead in the race from forty-five to thirty-three seconds.

Considering Evenepoel pulled up a bit, thinking his tyre was going flat, it’s easy to think that Pogačar enjoyed a bit of luck that more time wasn’t taken out of his lead.

In the end, Campenaerts finished fifth, fifty-two seconds behind Evenepoel.

The day’s highlight, however, had little to do with racing, as Lidl-Trek’s Julien Bernard hammed it up for the crowd as he climbed the Côte de Curtil-Vergy, rousing his French fans and even stopping to give a hug and a kiss to what appeared to be his wife and child.

READ MORE ON: 2024 Tour de France time trial Tour de France

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