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Tim Declercq of Vive le Vélo: "For Remco it's an 'easy' race, but it can be fast" |  Vive Le Velo

Tim Declercq of Vive le Vélo: “For Remco it’s an ‘easy’ race, but it can be fast” | Vive Le Velo

Tomorrow Remco Evenepoel will begin the final mountain stage of this tour in Spain with a comfortable 2’07” lead on paper. Enric Mas is getting closer, the rest a little further.

Will we ever get another deal among the Spaniards for a red diamond, wonders Carl Vannokerque. “That would be amazing, but I don’t think Mas would risk everything for the ultimate victory,” says cycling analyst Marin de Vries.

“He really wants to keep his second place,” she explains. “Movistar takes advantage of the points. If he does everything, he loses a lot.”

Ex-cycling journalist Robert Janssens also does not believe in a Spanish conspiracy: “I don’t think other Spaniards, besides Mas, are still able to harass Remco. They are probably already satisfied that they are so scattered.”

De Vries thinks they will be busy with each other behind Mas. “They are all close to each other and may still be hoping to make the leap.”

Can it still get worse? “For Remco, of course it’s easy to race. He only has to keep one person in sight,” says Quick-Step teammate Tim Declercq.

This is of course less obvious in practice than on paper. “It can always go fast. If I’m 2 percent lower and other people see it…” Declercq remains vigilant.

Marijn de Vries also warns of premature orgasm. “I’m also thinking about 2015 when Dumoulin was in the red and dropped to sixth on the penultimate day. That was a different situation, but don’t count yourself rich for Madrid!”

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Evenepoel can of course still count on his excellent team. Declercq proudly looks at his teammates: “It would have been better if Alaphilippe and Serry were there, but the current team is doing really well. They have a very good mix. If you ride like a captain, you naturally always rise a little bit above yourself.”

“Right now, Patrick Lefevre’s plan to build a good team is really working,” concludes Declercq.