The Belgian will roll down the ramp for the race against the clock Sunday as a top favorite, just one week after he clinched historic grand tour victory at the Vuelta a España.
“Obviously I would like to win, make no mistake about that. I worked very hard on my time trial this year,” Evenepoel told reporters Friday. “I start here with ambitions. But whether I come second or 10th here, that doesn’t change my season.”
Evenepoel was spotted training sporting a red “Vuelta-edition” Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl road helmet this week.
The 22-year-old consolidated his grip on the Spanish tour’s maillot rojo with a crushing 48-second victory over Olympic champion Primož Roglič in an ITT of very similar length to that on tap in Wollongong on Sunday.
“I am very happy with the regularity that I’ve shown in my time trials this year. My worst performance was second place. If I can repeat that on Sunday, that would be very good,” he said.
“Everything will depend on the shape of the day. I’m quite confident in that area. What I felt in training today [Friday] was pretty good. Anyway, there is no more pressure for me. My season has already passed.”
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Evenepoel cut a Quick-Step-colored streak through the season so far. Marquee victories at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Vuelta highlight a year of stage-race and one-day success.
The Belgian played it cool when asked his chances against double world champion Filippo Ganna and Swiss standouts Stefan Bisseger and Stefan Küng for Sunday’s 34km race for rainbows.
Evenepoel is riding free of pressure and into the relative unknown after spending most of the past month in the Spanish mountains rather than down in his time trial skis.
“Hard to say,” he said when asked if the Vuelta will blunt his edge.
“I don’t really have an idea how much they [Ganna, Küng etc] have ridden in the last month. Not much, perhaps. On the other hand, they always say that after your first full grand tour you can kick a gear bigger. I hope so. It may be necessary to beat those men.”
Evenepoel threw his red jersey into his suitcase and flew direct from Madrid to Australia after he made records by becoming first Belgian grand tour winner since 1978.
Two days off the bike and two short shakeout rides sees Evenepoel refreshed and looking to score something else big for Belgium as it seeks an elusive first victory in the world championship time trial’s 28-year history.
“It was not the shortest journey. Add to that the difficult last week in the Vuelta, where you still feel your body crumble,” he said
“But I have also been able to enjoy it, albeit always with Sunday in mind. I had to quickly flip the switch. But I knew that beforehand. Three months ago, we carefully planned how we would fill in that week between Vuelta and the world time trial championships. It was best to leave straight away. In Belgium, I would have known much less peace.”