24 hours after Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) demolished the field and win the Volta ao Algarve stage 4 time trial, the Belgian rider came dangerously close to losing the race after a mechanical issue on the last stage almost put him out of the race.

With 40km remaining and a late mechanical that left Evenepoel stuck on the big ring for the final climb, the race leader had a healthy lead over his rivals heading into the final stage to the summit of the Alto do Malhão. However, a dramatic finish was produced.

Ultimately, Evenepoel overcame the assault from Visma-Lease a Bike's all-round cyclist and stay up with his chief opponent, Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe).

In the end, the Colombian rider was unable to overtake Evenepoel, who became the second rider in the race's history to win three overall titles, despite winning the stage and cutting the Belgian rider's advantage by a few seconds.

Evenepoel told the media after his win: “I should be happy with this third victory. It’s a very nice feeling to come here and have a successful week and return home with three victories and two second places.”

Evenepoel recognised he had issues as soon as the road climbed up. Not only was he unsupported and alone, but Visma still had Jan Tratnik and Sepp Kuss circling about, and to make matters worse, he was stuck in his front chainring, which only had 54 teeth.

The Alto do Malhão is only 3km, so it's not very long, but some of the pitches are close to 20 percent. That was when the race was at stake.

Remco reacted to the moment afterwards: “We were calm. I think that you could see it on television. But we showed how mentally strong we are as a team. We never panic under any circumstances.”

After a period of relaxation and training, Evenepoel will head to Paris-Nice in March for his first World Tour stop. He has had success in his first racing season in Portugal, having won the Figueira Champions Classic and another Algarve win.

Being the first of the "big four" to compete this year, he will continue to gain momentum come springtime.


A passionate Irish journalist with a love for cycling, politics and of course Portugal especially their sausage rolls.

Rory Mc Ginn