Tailwind. Tailwinds everywhere. How else does the speed go up, up, up.Evenepoel was clearly superior today, has been on several days before, and will continue to dominate - so hats off for that.
But more generally, IMO there is something perplexing about the recent trend where riding your opponents off the wheel and long range attacks have once again become viable options for the heads of the state. Evenepoel embodies this trend better than anyone else.
In brief, a sufficient edge can once again be found from aerobic (and metabolic) capability, which allows one to ride away. Tactics will of course play a role, and succesful long range attacks of course also inspire further attempts in a cumulative causation manner. Aerodynamics etc play a role too. There are generational talents competing, but every era has those. But the basic requirement for pulling off these kinds of wins is having superior legs, because as per one famous take it's an aerobic sport, dammit.
In the late noughties and 2010s, aerobic monsters like Cancellara (or Boonen) could sometimes stomp the opposition from afar but generally utilizing this tactic was the exception, not the expectation. These days you can almost bet on some favorite going long. On his best days, Evenepoel is almost van Vleuten like, but others too have scored similar victories.
At the same time cycling is further internationalising, the talent pool is at least in principle expanding, and more likely than not the quality of (non-clinic) preparation is expected to become more standardisd amongst the top contenders. So to me the expectation is that the differences in aerobic metabolic capabilities narrow down, not become wider. However, exactly the opposite is played out before our eyes.
This is not a veiled complaint, btw, just trying to think about this aloud. Quite the contrary, the big one day races in the 2010s tended to be a lot more boring as the outcome (reduced sprint or a bunch sprint) was almost guaranteed and no one went long.
So, what might explain the developments and/or what am I missing in this simplistic post here?