Evenepoel and Roglic expected to go 'mano a mano' at Giro d'Italia

 Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic during the last stage of the 2023 Volta a Catalunya
Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic during the last stage of the 2023 Volta a Catalunya

Soudal-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has predicted a repeat of the Volta a Catalunya duel between his team leader Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič when they next clash at the Giro d’Italia, suggesting it will be "spectacular”.

Roglič and Evenepoel battled it out all week at the Volta a Catalunya, with the Slovenian claiming overall victory ahead of the World Champion by a narrow margin of just six seconds. The two won four stages out of a possible seven between them, with Roglič also claiming the Points classification and Evenepoel the other two secondary classifications on offer - the Mountains classification and the Best Young Rider.

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The Volta a Catalunya was their last stage race before the Giro d’Italia. Both will soon head to altitude for a key block of training, with Evenepoel returning to Liege-Bastogne-Liege after his victory last year.  Roglič is not expected to race again and so they next meet at the Giro d'Italia on May 6, when the Corsa rosa begins with a 19.6km time trial near Ancona on the Adriatic coast.

Lefevere was critical of his Classics riders but fortunately has Evenepoel under contract and is pivoting his team to support him in future Grand Tours.

Lefevere told La Dernière Heure  that other riders might improve their race form before May but predicted that “we are looking at a mano a mano between the two in Italy. It should be spectacular.”

Lefevere even went as far as to claim that Evenepoel could have won the Volta a Catalunya overall had he not lost time by wanting to make a full-scale victory salute when he claimed his first stage win at La Molina.


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Evenepoel then won again on Sunday after attacking on the hilly final circuit in Montjuic. Only Roglič could follow him, although after shadowing the Belgian all the way to the line, he did not dispute the final two-up sprint.

“He has been very, very strong, attacking from the start to finish in the race,” Lefevere told La Dernière Heure.


“What he did on Sunday shows that Remco is not just in great form, but that he also never gives up. That’s very promising.”

“I know he’ll have been a bit disappointed not have won this race but for me, that’s the most important thing.”

“He has taken two stages, he’s been the main protagonist of the race and he wasn’t any less strong than Primož Roglič, who’s not just anybody. I give him a good nine out of ten for his overall performance.”

“If he didn’t win overall, it’s because he forgot to keep pedalling hard all the way to the line at La Molina. If he didn’t sit up, we’d perhaps have had a different race,” Lefevere claimed, although it should perhaps be remembered that Roglič dropped Evenepoel at the much harder summit finish of Lo Port two days later.


Lefevere admitted that Evenepoel had made some errors during the race highlighted what he had learnt.

“The important thing was learning lessons in terms of the Giro. And he will. The key thing is that he’s already very strong, he’s still not at 98 or 99 percent of his potential and from hereon until May, he’ll be back at altitude and he should lose that last kilo.”

Lefevere’s upbeat viewpoint regarding Evenepoel would also have received a boost from Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad’s cycling experts.

In an in-depth, wide-ranging  article this weekend, they collectively gave the Belgian the edge over Roglič for May by 55 percent to 45 percent after rating their condition, teams, time trialling, preparation and morale.


The Belgian manager was equally fulsome in his praise of Evenepoel’s teammates.

“They did a very good job. They took control of the race all the time even though it wasn’t necessarily up to them to do that. But that’s great for their confidence. They’ve also shown they’re ready for the Giro.”