The 19-year-old took home the best young rider classification at his first ever pro race.
What a week it’s been for Remco Evenepoel! Two days after turning 19, the Belgian prodigy made his pro debut and what he showed on the roads of Argentina wasn’t anything short of remarkable. Three days into the race – after having previously worked in the services of his teammates – Remco produced a strong ride in the flat individual time trial which reshuffled the general classification, finishing third on the stage and moving into the green jersey.
“We did a great job as a team this week, it’s been a beautiful race for us and we can be happy with what we have achieved. I started here without any expectations, as I wasn’t in the best shape, so to get the green jersey, a stage podium and ninth in the GC is really great. I am proud of what I’ve done here and of what I have learned, it’s been an excellent start to the season and I hope that from here I will only continue my upward trajectory.”
Evenepoel continued in the spotlight also on the queen stage, where he put in a mighty performance on Alto del Colorado, emptying himself for Julian Alaphilippe, an effort which didn’t prevent him from retaining the lead in the youth standings. On the flat, together with Max Richeze and Petr Vakoč, he put in some heavy rotations at the front of the bunch, in the crosswinds or headwind, including on the final stage, where Alvaro Hodeg came close to getting his maiden win of the season.
In the overall classification, Julian Alaphilippe – the only European rider to have sported the leader’s jersey at this 37th edition – finished second, one of the two Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders in the top 10. The 26-year-old Frenchman leaves Argentina with two stage victories in the bag and an important boost of confidence, which he’ll carry to the Tour Colombia (12-17 February).
“It was my first time here and it turned out to be a nice experience. I am happy with my wins and the atmosphere the fans made this past week. It gives me great pleasure to start my season in this manner, with two victories and an overall podium. I don’t have regrets after this race, because I gave my best here together with the team”, said Julian, first ever Frenchman to have won a stage at Vuelta a San Juan.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step continues to remain the most successful team at the Vuelta a San Juan since the race was elevated in the UCI ranking three years ago, with nine stage victories. At the same time, our outfit strengthened its hold on the World Team Classification, having a lead of more than 2 000 points over the two squads rounding out the podium.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images