• Remco Evenepoel of Belgium claimed the 2018 junior mens road race in style (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Remco Evenepoel showed why he is such a highly rated talent within the sport, fighting back from a two-minute deficit from a puncture to stomp his way to a win that be remembered as one of the more impressive in world championships history.
By
Cycling Central

28 Sep 2018 - 8:51 AM 

Evenepoel started off his virtuoso performance on the demanding Innsbruck course by coming back after being held up by a mid-race crash, then forming attacking to break clear of the remnants of the peloton to forge his way to victory.

The Belgian then took off alone on the course’s final climb to finish more than a minute clear of his closest rival, Germany’s Marius Mayrhoffer, with Alessandro Fancellu (Italy) out-sprinting Alexandre Balmer (Switzerland) for bronze.

Evenepoel, though, looked to be in a class of his own, and even before the race began was the standout favourite after winning the time-trial earlier in the week by over a minute over Australia's Luke Plapp.

Silver for Aussie junior Plapp in ITT
Australian youngster Luke Plapp almost had his hands on a tarmac rainbow, setting the fastest time in the men's junior ITT until Belgian Remco Evenepoel came home at warp speed.

As if the European Road-Race and Time Trial victories in his category earlier this season, as well a spate of other wins, had not already made the Belgian the man to watch in Thursday’s road race, Tuesday’s triumph in the junior men’s time trial ensured the 18-year-old was the reference point for all the other 158 starters.

Evenepoel is also creating waves with his decision to bypass the Under 23 ranks and jump straight to the professional circuit with QuickStep Floors from the junior ranks, a rare feat in the sport.

Riding with race number 13, Evenepoel seemed to have hit bad luck indeed when he fell heavily in a mass tangle in the first third of the 131.8 kilometre event. But despite a delay with a change of bike from the team car, the Belgian leader then all but dragged his own waiting team-mates back to the bunch, rather than using them up to save energy.

“I had a bad moment there, I lost almost two minutes, but I managed to get back without too many difficulties," said Evenepoel after the race. “My team-mates did a great job upping the pace, there was an American rider who attacked, and I went behind him and then got away.”

Briefly accompanied by Karel Vacek (Czech Republic), who then cramped and faded away. Mayrhoffer was able to stay in Evenepoel’s wake for longer, though he refused to help the obviously stronger Evenepoel and was struggling just to keep the Belgian's wheel on the flat.

“I knew I could drop him on the climb, I went at my own tempo, I was quite happy with that," said Evenepoel after.

Evenepoel did just that on the final climb, dropping Mayrhoffer on the early slopes of the ascent, easing down the descent and soloing to the finish in Innsbruck.

The margin of victory offered a lot of opportunity for celebration, culminating as he dismounted and held his bike in the air after crossing the line.

“I wanted to win alone, that was my goal and I did it,” Evenepoel said.

Evenepoel's talent already has him being talked about in the same breath as Belgian great Eddy Merckx, though the youngster is looking to make his own legend.

""Being described as the new Merckx is not something I want to hear. Everything is different now and every rider is different, so I don't want to be called the new Merckx. I'm the new me."