Exclusive: Contador reveals Evenepoel's main weakness ahead of Roglic battle

Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) may be the slender favourite for the 2023 Giro d’Italia, but Alberto Contador says the Belgian’s inexperience means there is still much we do not know about him at Grand Tour level.

Evenepoel renews his rivalry with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) in Italy this week, following on from their battle at La Vuelta where he ended the Slovenian’s three-year grip on the red jersey last year.

The pair are joined by former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and 2020 Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart (both Ineos Grenadiers) in a formidable field in the battle for the maglia rosa.

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Evenepoel has completed one Grand Tour – his victory in Spain – with his only other intended outing over three weeks seeing him fade, and then abandon, at the Giro 2021.

“He has ridden fewer Grand Tours than Primoz Roglic, so he doesn’t know his body as well in Grand Tours,” said seven-time Grand Tour champion and Eurosport expert Contador.

“He hasn’t had too much opportunity to test it. So I think that could be considered as a weakness.”

However, the 23-year-old is a different rider since his first joust with the pink jersey and has grand, and increasingly realistic, ambitions to sweep cycling’s three Grand Tours, including the Tour de France.

“And then the other important factor for Remco is not to have bad days. On a bad day in the Vuelta a Espana, you can lose 40 seconds or a minute. A bad day in the Giro means you can lose five minutes,” Contador continued.

“So I think maybe a weakness is that Remco Evenepoel, due to not having ridden as many Grand Tours, still does not know his body as well as riders that have done more Grand Tours.”

Evenepoel heads to the Giro on the back of defending his Liege-Bastogne-Liege title earlier in April after an expected showdown with Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) failed to materialise when the two-time Tour champion crashed out.

Meanwhile, Roglic will roll out for his 12th Grand Tour in Fossacesia on Saturday, although he will be acutely aware that he has failed to finish three of the last four after a spree of crashes.

Roglic won his last mini duel with Evenepoel at the Volta a Catalunya in March, holding a narrow edge in the mountains, but Contador is reluctant to pick a winner ahead of the 106th Corsa Rosa.

“That is a complicated question because we are talking about two riders who possess tremendous quality. Two riders that are in great shape and have prepared very well,” he said.

“Primoz Roglic has made a very solid start to the season despite beginning to compete a bit later [after injury]. The same for Remco. We have seen him put on shows like on Liege Bastogne Liege.

“So giving a prediction looks really complicated, and to be honest I dare not give a prediction. I can’t put either one of them ahead of the other.”

Much has been made about the amount of individual time trials on the menu in Italy – three, totalling 70.6km – but Contador does not believe it will be the decisive factor between the expected top two.

“Both Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel are two riders that are huge favourites to win any time trial, be it at a World Championship or at an Olympic Games,” added Contador.

“So I think where the difference will be made will be in the high mountains.”

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