Remco Evenepoel survives late scare to win Tour de France stage seven time trial

Remco Evenepoel overcame a late scare to win the stage seven time trial on the Tour de France and eat into Tadej Pogacar’s lead in yellow as the front two put time into their other rivals.

Evenepoel’s first Tour stage win on his race debut came on his preferred territory, with the world time trial champion having enough in the bank to take the victory by 12 seconds despite thinking he had suffered a puncture inside the last three kilometres on the approach to Gevrey-Chambertin.

Evenepoel was signalling to his team car for help before bouncing his back wheel to test the air pressure, reassuring himself and recovering his rhythm as he went on to cut his overall deficit to 33 seconds over a 25.3km course defined by a gentle climb midway through.

The stage win gives Evenepoel, in the white jersey as the best young rider in this Tour, stage victories in all three Grand Tours at the age of 24.

“It’s crazy,” the Belgian said. “I was on a good day. The climb was pretty tough. I wanted to start fast and I had to keep something for the climb so it wasn’t easy. Then the descent when you’re on the limit was pretty technical and fast.

“But I enjoyed every metre of this time trial and coming out with the win was simply amazing.”

Evenepoel was no doubt running on a little extra adrenalin after fearing a late puncture was going to end his hopes of the win.

“I was pretty sure I had a puncture,” he said. “I think maybe somebody dropped a glass or something it was exactly the same sound as a puncture so I was a bit scared. After a few hundred metres I knew nothing was wrong but I had to keep going with a bit of (worry) in my head in case of a slow puncture.

Cycling Tour de France
Tadej Pogacar was second on the stage in the race leader’s yellow jersey (Daniel Cole/AP)

“I wasn’t too sure even to the last corner but I had to take risks but I knew Tadej was pretty close to me…

“Tadej is going to be pretty unreachable, but it’s racing. You never know what happens. I think the more into the race we are the better I feel. I will focus more on the podium but we just have to go for it. I have the legs for it. We just have to keep going.”

The top two pulled further clear of Primoz Roglic and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard who finished third and fourth on the day respectively.

Vingegaard had been up on Roglic through the first two time checks on the road out of Nuits-Saint-Georges, but faded towards the finish.

Roglic finished 34 seconds off Evenepoel’s time, with Vingegaard three seconds further back – still a strong return for the Dane who has had little opportunity to ride his time trial bike in his fight to even make the start of the Tour following his horror crash in the Basque Country in April.

That leaves Vingegaard 75 seconds off yellow in third, with Roglic another 21 seconds back, although the Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe rider was remaining upbeat.

“I did everything I could so I’m really happy with the performance I put out,” Roglic said. “I can be optimistic and look forward.”

Pogacar had no complaints about being beaten by the world time trial champion.

“To lose against Remco, against the the world champion and best time triallist in the world right now, I think that’s pretty good and I can be satisfied,” he said.

“For sure I would love to take a stage win, but against Remco it’s pretty tough. I gained time on Primoz and and Jonas and the other guys so I can be happy. I need to keep an eye on Remco, he’s a bit closer, but also Jonas and Primoz can show good legs in the mountains.”