Deep into the third week of the Vuelta a España and Remco Evenepoel continues to lead the race with a healthy advantage of over two minutes.
That was helped by the abandonment of defending champion Primož Roglič after stage 16, but the Belgian has shown over the Vuelta so far that he’s now racing with a maturity and consideration he’s not always demonstrated in his young career.
With 12 days in red under his belt and two stage wins, Evenepoel would be forgiven for upping the ante in terms of celebrating his grasp on red - we often see the leaders of Grand Tours in full coloured skin suits, or on bikes that have been decked out in yellow, pink, or red livery to celebrate their time at the top of the GC. At the Vuelta so far though, Evenepoel has decided to keep things fairly low-key, perhaps not tempting fate as he looks to finish his second Grand Tour appearance with an overall victory.
Outfit-wise, just a red helmet has accompanied his mandated red jersey so far, while his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team bike has also remained close to its normal state with just a few scarlet touches.
With just one top-end bike available in Specialized’s line-up, following the dissolution of the Venge, the S-Works Tarmac SL7 is the only choice for riders in standard road stages (the Shiv TT for time trial and the Roubaix for cobbled days).
As mentioned, Evenepoel has kept his SL7 close to its usual look, and you can see just a couple hints to the Vuelta on board. The first is on the bar tape; no overbearing all red wrap here, just a light granular fade of red on the drops courtesy of the Supercaz bar tape supplied to the team. The other Vuelta themed addition is the bottle cages. Tacx supplies Quick-Step with bottle cages and the team clearly had a couple of red ones ready to go in case one of their riders made it into the overall lead.
At around 1.7m in height, Evenepoel is using a fairly small frame here, we’re guessing probably a size 52. He’s using a fairly standard team setup all round with no significant customisations. The whole groupset is the latest Shimano Dura-Ace R9200, and in this particular set of pictures he’s using 54/40 chainrings, presumably on one of the Vuelta’s flat stages. Inside the chainrings you can see Evenepoel has a K-Edge Pro chain catcher with power meter magnet just peaking through the gap. That means mechanics can avoid having to attach a separate magnet to the frame by having it conveniently built into the chain catcher.
In these images, Evenepoel’s bike is set up with Specialized-owned wheel company Roval’s Rapide SLX II wheels. These wheels come in two different depths for aerodynamics, with a 51mm deep wheel at the front and a 60mm deep wheel at the rear. Evenepoel has switched out to the shallower Roval Alpinist CLX II on some of the biggest mountain stages so far at the Vuelta. The wheels are shod with S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss Ready tyres front and rear.
Evenepoel is using a zero-offset seat post so he can get positioned over the bottom bracket, and he’s riding an S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror as his seat of choice.
Up front he’s using a long proprietary SL7 stem mounted with a set of Pro Vibe Aero SL handlebars. In front is a K-Edge computer mount shod with what looks to be a Garmin 830. Evenepoel is clearly taking precautions not to lose the computer over rough roads or in a crash, and has a tether attached to his handlebars.
You’ll notice Evenepoel is one of a number of riders who have taken to rotating the position of their shifters inwards in the aim of getting into a more efficient aerodynamic position.