Remco Evenepoel's whirlwind season looks set to continue with the 19-year-old describing his form as the best its been all year just days ahead of the elite men's time trial at the Road World Championships in Yorkshire.
The Belgian has enjoyed a startling debut season in the WorldTour ranks, winning the European Championships time trial title and the Clásica San Sebastián. A string of impressive rides at the recent Deutschland Tour, including a long solo attack that had several WorldTour teams scrambling to chase him, have made him a genuine contender for the podium in Yorkshire, even if logic would suggest that he might struggle over the 54km course.
"I think that I'm ready and that the course suits me quite well," Evenepoel said, confident as ever, at a Belgian press conference in York on Monday night.
"I'm quite motivated and I think that my shape is better than it was a month ago, so I'm ready to give my all."
The course Evenepoel triumphed on at the European Championships in August was just 22km in length – less than half of what he is facing in Yorkshire – but while the notion of over an hour in the saddle would be a daunting prospect for most elite athletes it doesn't appear to phase the young Belgian.
"It will be the longest one I've done and maybe the longest one I'll ever do because I've heard that it's quite a special thing to have a time trial of 54km," he admitted.
"I'm not going to say that I'm nervous about it but I'm quite excited to see how I will handle this long distance."
And when asked if it was too early for such a young rider like himself to become the elite world time trial champion, Evenepoel just shrugged, offered a brief smile and replied: "It's never too early."
Just twelve months ago Evenepoel was running rings around the junior field at Worlds in both the time trial and the road race. His performance in the latter, in which he was distanced after a crash and then proceeded to cut through the field almost effortlessly remains one of the most iconic moments of last year's championships.
His transition to the elites has been just as incredible, with dominant performances not just against the clock but in gritty, hard-fought stage races like the Baloise Belgium Tour, where he put the likes of Victor Campenaerts and Tim Wellens to the sword. He has excelled in virtually every terrain.
"It's a crazy feeling. Last year it was with the juniors but now it's with the pros and there's only been a year," Evenepoel said, at least recognizing the speed at which he as developed as a rider.
"It gives me a good feeling in training and the motivation to go harder and harder."
Evenepoel's preparation for the Worlds included the two Canadian WorldTour races, followed by a short training camp back in Belgium. Canada may not have yielded anything spectacular in terms of results but the youngster is confident when it comes to his form.
"The Canadian races went okay. They were good preparation with intensity. I then had a small training camp in the Ardennes and that went well. There I really found my good feelings and fresh shape.
"I think that I'm ready and that I'm in the best shape I've been all year. The power I push, I feel fresh, and that's how I feel. I'm ready."
The field here at Worlds is certainly a step up to the one he crushed at the Europeans.
The defending world champion Rohan Dennis comes into the event like a coiled spring, ready to take the frustrations of the last few months and channel them into a monstrous performance. The World Hour Record holder and Evenepoel's Belgian teammate Victor Campenaerts is here, while Primož Roglič arrives after his Vuelta win.
That means Evenepoel has given himself the somewhat modest aim of a top-five performance as his primary aim.
"My absolute goal is a top-five but if I don't achieve that I won't be disappointed. I'll be happy if I get everything out of my legs. My season has already been good, so I just need to get on my bike and see what my legs give me," he said.
Few would bet against a top-five placing. Some are even tipping Evenepoel for the rainbow jersey. Whatever happens, the young Belgian will once again be one of the most fascinating riders to follow during these World Championships.
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