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The 22-year-old Belgian equaled and surpassed a string of cycling milestones with his spectacular solo victory in Wollongong.
Already a junior world champion in 2018, Evenepoel skipped racing in the U23 ranks to make the leap to the elite men’s category the following year.
Sunday’s victory capped a dream season for Evenepoel that included victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Clásica San Sebastián, and the Vuelta a España.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming of,” Evenepoel said Sunday. “After a monument, a big classic, a grand tour, and a world championship, I think I won everything I could have this year. I think I will never have another season like this.”
Here are a few of the milestones Evenepoel hit Sunday:
- At 22, he’s the youngest elite men’s world champion since Lance Armstrong won in 1993 at 21. The youngest winner remains Karel Kaers, who won at 20 in 1934.
- Evenepoel joins Greg LeMond as the only rider to win both junior and elite men’s road world titles.
- He becomes the fourth rider in cycling history to win a grand tour, one of cycling’s five “monuments,” and the world title in the same season. The others are Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault.
- With a winning gap of 2:21, it’s the largest winning margin since Vittorio Adorni won by 9:50 in 1968.
- He is the 10th rider to win a grand tour and the world title in one season. Eddy Merckx and Stephen Roche hold the mark for the rare “triple crown” of winning the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and world title in one season, with Merckx in 1974 and Roche in 1987.
Evenepoel’s grand tour victory at the Vuelta a España was also Belgium’s first since Johan De Muynck won the Giro in 1978.
Everyone was impressed with Evenepoel’s victory, including Merckx himself. Now 77, the cycling legend tipped his hat to the young Belgian star.
“It’s unbelievable how he managed it. Already 50km from the finish I said to Axel (his son Axel Merckx, ed.): Remco is going to win!” Merckx told Het Nieuwsblad. “He has become a very big rider. He has improved in every way: physically, but also mentally, especially the last year. And that’s how you arrive at today’s Remco Evenepoel: he dares to race, he doesn’t wait for a sprint.”
Evenepoel will return to Belgium for the first time since winning the Vuelta earlier this month, and will likely be received home like a conquering hero.
Evenepoel will debut his rainbow stripes at the Binche-Chimay-Binche race on October 4.