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Remco Evenepoel surprised by Tobias Foss but encouraged by Worlds form

WOLLONGONG AUSTRALIA SEPTEMBER 18 Bronze medalist Remco Evenepoel of Belgium poses on the podium during the medal ceremony after the 95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 Men Individual Time Trial a 342km individual time trial race from Wollongong to Wollongong Wollongong2022 on September 18 2022 in Wollongong Australia Photo by Con ChronisGetty Images
Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) on the podium in Wollongong (Image credit: Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel spoke for many when he was informed of the winner beyond the finish line of the UCI Road World Championships time trial. "Huh? Foss?" he asked his soigneur, seemingly incredulous. 

Tobias Foss was not among the major pre-race favourites, but the former Tour de l'Avenir winner produced a storming ride to upset the established order and claim Norway's first world title in the event.

Evenepoel's surprise was enhanced by the fact he was not informed of Foss' winning time over race radio, and he reached the line knowing he was beating two-time champion Filippo Ganna (Italy) but running close with Stefan Küng (Switzerland). 

Evenepoel finished in third, nine seconds behind Foss and six seconds behind Küng. 

"I was a bit surprised crossing line and hearing he won the race because in my radio they were never talking about him. The only name I was hearing was [Stefan] Küng," the Belgian said in his bronze medal press conference. 

"It was a surprise, to be honest, but looking at his final, let's say, 10km, I think he just rode the best second part of the race. It's a small surprise but if you ride so fast in the second part it means you just have a little more than the others and you were just the strongest in the end."

Evenepoel said he had a wobble at the half-way point of the 34.2km course, based on two laps of a technical Wollongong circuit, but was otherwise happy with his performance, suggesting it was his career best in terms of power numbers. 

"I had a bad moment going into the second lap," he said. "The wind fell down completely in the second part of the race, which meant less tailwind and less headwinds, so you were always pushing with no benefit of the tailwind anymore to go faster. 

"I don't know. Looking at the results, the splits, I think Tobias did a really fast last 7-8km."

Road race

Evenepoel collected his second successive bronze medal from the Worlds time trial, and his third minor medal after his silver on debut in 2019 but the wait for an elite world title goes on. In that respect there was some cause for optimism.

The 22-year-old, of course, won the Vuelta a España precisely a week ago, in the meantime travelling nearly 24 hours to the other side of the world. Recovery from his first Grand Tour finish was the major question mark heading into Worlds and he even revealed he'd struggled more than he first let on when he spoke to the media on arrival earlier this week. 

But if Evenepoel is talking about career best power numbers, he's clearly not far off the mark with a week to go until he takes aim at the rainbow jersey once again in the elite road race. 

"Today was the first day I started to feel a bit normal. At the start of week, actually, I was not good at all. I was a bit scared for today, to be honest," Evenepoel said. 

"But I think what I could do on my bike today was just good. There were just two guys stronger than me, so nothing to complain about and nothing to be sad about. I just hope I can recover and take this feeling towards next Sunday. 

"I feel I can fall asleep already now," he added, while his demeanour as he sat on the stage as his fellow podium placers answered questions also spoke to the depth of his tiredness. "The season is getting quite long. I just hope I can recover well and get to Sunday with fresh legs because I will need them for a seven-hour hour race."

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