Remco Evenepoel again proved that he is a world class time-triallist, winning the decisive Volta ao Algarve stage 4 time-trial by a whopping 58 seconds over Stefan Küng – one of the best TT riders in the world. The Belgian now has over a minute lead over his closest rider in the GC, Ethan Hayter. The 32.2 kilometres long course was hilly that suited Evenepoel perfectly.
Evenepoel was a big favourite for the stage, but no one expected him to beat Küng by almost a minute. He also won the Volta ao Algarve ITT in 2020, beating Rohan Dennis, then the ITT World Champion, by 10 seconds in the hilly 20.3 km ITT as well as Küng by 19 seconds. Evenepoel’s win was even more impressive considering he was the only rider to average not just over 50, but over 51km/h on the course.
Küng’s results in time-trials have been impressive in the last few years. 1st in European Championships in 2020 and 2021, 3rd and 5th in World Championships respectively in 2020 and 2021, and 4th in Tokyo Olympics in 2021. However in the big races he always seems to come up against someone just that bit better, such as today or Pogacar in the Tour de France Stage 5 time trial.
David Gaudu lost his leader’s jersey, but by the French climber’s previously low standards his time-trial performance was impressive. He finished 9th, losing to Evenepoel by over 2 minutes and to his teammate Küng only by 1 minute and 11 seconds on this long TT.
Stage 5 will be the last day of Volta ao Algarve, ending with the Alto do Malhão climb of 2.6 km at 9.5%. In 2016, Alberto Contador did 7.74 w/kg for 6:48 on this steep hill. Evenepoel’s lead in GC over his closest competitors is impressive, but he might be isolated early if other teams like INEOS or FDJ try something because Evenepoel’s only climbing domestique is Louis Vervaeke at this race. Even so, it is difficult to imagine Evenepoel losing over 60 seconds on a parcours such as this.
According to a strava file that Remco Evenepoel uploaded after the time-trial, he averaged 392 watts for almost 38 minutes in his extremely aerodynamic TT position, which is outrageous. There has been speculation about his current weight, and it is hard to guess how heavy Evenepoel is right now, given that he can produce these incredible performances on that flat in both TT and road races (WC ITT bronze, Druivenkoers) but has struggled to replicate that dominance uphill (Valenciana, Lombardia).
Evenepoel’s w/kg in Algarve time-trial with different weights
- 6.32 w/kg if 62 kg
- 6.22 w/kg if 63 kg
- 6.13 w/kg if 64 kg
Whatever his weight exactly is, Evenepoel’s w/kg output in this time-trial was extremely high for time-trial standards, considering that riders ordinarily lose some watts trying to get in the most aero position compared to their road bike watts. It is curious that Evenepoel did not reach this kind of power on the Maigmo Tibi climb in Valenciana, where he completely blew up chasing Vlasov.
The difference between time-trials and road races is that before a climb riders already have accumulated a lot of fatigue, which might be the reason why Evenepoel cannot perform that well on finish climbs as compared to a fresh effort in the time trial.