Evenepoel deletes Strava data after victory in new TT position

Evenepoel published his Strava file data before quickly hiding the power in first test of new TT position.

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Remco Evenepoel dominated Saturday’s stage four individual time trial of the Volta ao Algarve. The young Belgian took the stage honours with a blistering 51km/h average speed, with European Time Trial Champion Stefan Küng the only rider to finish within one minute of Evenepoel. The result means Evenepoel takes a commanding 1:06 advantage over Ethan Hayter on the overall classification into Sunday’s final stage. 

That Evenepoel won a time trial is hardly surprising. The prodigious talent has excelled in the time trial discipline since turning pro at the tender age of 18 in 2019. What has caught many riders’ attention, however, is the sheer dominance with which Evenepoel won Saturday’s race against the clock. To beat time trial specialist and European Champion Stefan Küng into second place by 58 seconds will undoubtedly send shockwaves around the exclusive GC hopefuls club. 

Evenepoel, widely expected to turn week-long stage racing success into Grand Tour potential, evidently further strengthened his time trialling pedigree over the winter. A top ten finish at the Belgian Waffle Ride gravel race caught the headlines during an end of season trip to the United States. However, Evenepoel revealed earlier this week that the same trip involved a visit to Specialized’s wind tunnel to hone his time trial position.

Evenepoel appeared to have a much lower head position in his last major time trial outing at the World Championships. The new position (below) sees Evenepoel adopt a higher hand and head position.

“Adjustments have been made, to the handlebars and some other things, but nothing special”, Quickstep-Alpha Vinyl director Tom Steels explained. The adjustments to Evenepoel’s handlebars are clear to see. The extensions remain largely unchanged from elbow to wrist, however, the grips are longer and angled more aggressively. The position seemingly brings Remco’s hands closer together and higher while in the aero position, reaffirming the new mantra “lower is not always faster”. Evenepoel looks higher, more comfortable, and able to look further ahead in the new position.

The new grips seem to place Evenepoel’s hands more upright, higher and closer together.

CyclingTips understands Evenepoel’s new position also includes shorter cranks. As recently as the mid-noughties, time trialling specialists would opt for longer cranks (compared to their road racing setup) in the race against the clock. The theory being longer cranks would provide extra leverage. However, in recent years bike fitters and time triallists have opted for shorter cranks. The shorter cranks are said to aid riders in producing power in the compact time trial position. By using shorter cranks, in combination with adjusting the saddle height, riders can achieve the same knee extension at the bottom of the pedal stroke. While the shorter cranks help open the hip angle at the top of the pedal stroke, allowing the rider to either adopt the same position more comfortably or get the torso lower.

Another comparison view of Evenepoel’s previous position versus his new setup.

Worryingly for the WorldTour’s best riders, Evenepoel might still have room for improvement. Despite almost four months passing since that visit to the wind tunnel, Remco only received his new bike with the new position earlier this week. So late was the arrival, Evenepoel opted to ride the time trial bike on the rollers after each of the first three stages in the Algarve.

“Normally, I often train on the time trial bike, but due to a new setup, I haven’t been able to train for a while,” Evenepoel told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. “From Tuesday I did every day an easy spin on the time trial bike to get used to the new setup plus adjusted position.”

This last-minute switch to the new position clearly did little to hamper Evenepoel’s power output. A quick check of Remco Evenepoel’s Strava, shows the young Belgian started publishing many of his rides last August. Yesterday’s time trial ride is also there, adding many crowns and a local legend to his stage victory and yellow jersey haul from earlier in the day. Perhaps accidentally, Evenepoel even published his power data before quickly deleting it. Not so quickly that one follower couldn’t screenshot the data.

The screenshot grabbed by @AimeEliot shows Evenepoel produced a stunning 392-watt average power for the 38-minute effort. At a rumoured 61 kg, this equals a staggering 6.42w/kg ratio in a time trial position. Given many riders’ power output drops in the time trial position, a drop-off compensated by the improved aerodynamics of the time trial position, the output suggests Remco might not only have improved his time trialling, but potentially his climbing won’t have suffered at all. At just 2.6 kilometres, today’s uphill finish is unlikely to answer where Evenepoel’s climbing form currently sits definitively. Watch for the longer climbs in the upcoming Tirreno-Adriatico to give our first indication of Evenepoel’s climbing legs as he builds towards the Vuelta a España later this year. 

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