Remco Evenepoel: Tour de France gravel stage isn't dangerous but will look crazy

With 2024 marking Evenepoel's first crack at the Tour de France, every interview and press conference is focused on his July ambitions

Clock11:31, Sunday 11th February 2024

© Tim de Waele / Velo Collection via Getty images

Evenepoel thinks the gravel stage will look more chaotic than it actually will be

Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) started his season with a bang on Saturday, winning the Figueira Champions Classic with one of his trademark long-distance solo moves, but the Belgian is well aware that the Tour de France will dominate his every move this season, with each build-up race used as a marker ahead of July’s main goal.

Ahead of his win in Portugal, and his outing at next week’s Volta ao Algarve, the Soudal Quick-Step leader held a small online press conference from his hotel room, with the Tour and his ambitions front and centre of the discussion.

Over the winter the Belgian headed to France with teammate Louis Vervaeke, sports director Klaas Lodewyck, mechanic Nicolas Coosemans and Soigneur David Geeroms in a bid to recon several key stages, most notably the 25km stage 7 time trial from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin, the transitional stage 8 from Semur-en-Auxois to Colombey-Les-Deux-Eglises and stage 9, which starts and finishes in Troyes. This all-important final stage contains 14 gravel sections.

The inclusion of gravel at the Tour de France has been a hot topic since the route was unveiled in October of last year. Several team bosses and riders have voiced concern over the safety aspect, stating that the Tour should not be decided by mishaps that could take place on sketchy terrain.

However, having seen the sections up close, Evenepoel appeared relaxed with the approach race organisers ASO have taken, and suggested that the route was both safe for the riders and spectacular for the fans.

“The stages that I saw were the gravel and the time trial stage. The gravel stage is for the outside world is going to look more crazy than it actually is,” he said.

“The stage itself is not that technical and the stage isn’t dangerous. I think it’s something that everyone should be aware of. It’s gravel but it’s nothing special. For sure we have to be careful not to lose time but I think it’s a beautiful stage and I really enjoyed the recon. For me, it was a good thing to see the stages but I’m not the only one who has been there. Ineos and Visma have also been there. So it’s not a secret in pro cycling that we want to see stages like this so that it doesn’t affect the season. On the other hand, we want to plan more recon but I don’t know the details on that yet.”

Evenepoel forms part of the ‘big four’ for the Tour de France, alongside two-time winners Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar, as well as Primož Roglič.

The Belgian won the 2022 Vuelta a España and has never raced the Tour but his focal point is to crack the top-three this year before focussing firmly on the yellow jersey over the next two years.

“If I could really say a dream come true, it would be to be on the podium in Nice. the spot doesn’t matter, just being on the podium in Nice. It would be a dream come true,” he added.

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