Ineos Grenadiers director on Remco Evenepoel: ‘For sure he can win the Vuelta a España’

Evenepoel's stock is rising among his direct rivals as Ineos Grenadiers loses two of its GC options Saturday.

Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images

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GRADO, Spain (VN) — Remco Evenepoel proved he’s up to the task of defending the red jersey in the first of two biting mountaintop finales this weekend at the Vuelta a España.

Evenepoel matched his impressive ride from Thursday to snatch the red leader’s jersey with an attacking defense Saturday.

Evenopoel’s rise is not going unnoticed inside the peloton by his direct rivals. Ineos Grenadiers sport director Matteo Tosatto said no one in the peloton is underestimating the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl leader.

“For sure he can win the Vuelta,” Tosatto told VeloNews. “It is obvious he is racing to win the Vuelta. Now the team has to take responsibility of the race, and the race is three weeks long.”

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Ineos Grenadiers is doing its part to make it hard for Evenepoel, slotting Carlos Rodríguez and Tao Geoghegan Hart into the top-5 following Saturday’s mountaintop finish at Collao Fancuaya.

Evenepoel drove the GC leaders to the line, with Enric Mas (Movistar) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) matching him at the line. Rodríguez and Geoghegan Hart came through just a few seconds back.

Tosatto said it’s no surprise to see Evenepoel rising to the top of the heap.

“It’s obvious that Remco is in super shape,” Tosatto said. “Look what he did at San Sebastián. I saw him in training in Livigno, so [Thursday] was not a big surprise because we saw him very strong.”

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Tosatto said Ineos Grenadiers would use its numbers to its advantage.

Going into Saturday, the team also had Pavel Sivakov and Richard Carapaz in the top-20. Sivakov lost about two minutes to Evenepoel to drop of the top-10, while Carapaz ceded three more minutes following Thursday’s losses to sink below the top-20.

Tosatto on Remco: ‘It’s a big test to have the red jersey’

Evenepoel enjoying his stint in red. (Photo: DAVID STOCKMAN/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Tosatto told VeloNews on Friday the road would decide who the team’s GC captain would be, and so far it’s Rodríguez and Geoghegan Hart who are standing tall.

The team will keep piling pressure on Evenepoel to see if the young Belgian cracks.

So far, Evenepoel is standing tall.

“It’s the big test to have the red jersey,” Tosatto said of Evenepoel. “This is the first time he takes the leader’s jersey in a grand tour. He’s super young, so chapeau. But three weeks of a grand tour is long, we will see about the last week how is his condition. He is super strong so far.”

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