On the attack from the opening lap, the 19-year-old neo-pro dropped everyone else with 30 kilometers to go and won the Climb for our team.
Remco Evenepoel put in a dominant performance at the first Hammer Limburg race of the weekend and single-handedly netted a memorable Deceuninck – Quick-Step victory, our squad’s 32nd since the start of the season.
“The team wanted me to take as much points as possible and I think I did my job well. After that small group went clear, I made sure of joining them and scoring points at each sprint. With four laps to go, a big group was closing in and there was some hesitation at the front, so I took advantage of this and rode clear, adding to our points tally. It was a good day and I’m proud to help the team get the win and start Hammer Limburg on the right foot”, Remco said after the podium ceremony.
Consisting of eight laps of a gruelling 8.4km-long circuit containing two ascents, the Hammer Climb was raced full gas from the start, when a rider went clear and put some daylight between him and the chasing group, from which Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert emerged to net the team’s first points of the day. Shortly after, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) went clear and the only one to respond and bridge across was Remco Evenepoel. The group swelled to four riders and opened a half a minute gap over the next five laps, which saw Remco score well, as he constantly was in the top two at the top of the Vaalserberg.
Evenepoel’s strong and composed ride bumped Deceuninck – Quick-Step into the hot seat, but the 19-year-old from Aalst was keen on increasing that margin and on a downhill section, he accelerated showing the others a clean pair of wheels before riding out of sight. This nicely-timed move left the chasers incapable of narrowing the margin, which Remco – oblivious to what was happening behind – stretched out beyond the one-minute mark as he continued to mop up important points. His impressive haul helped the team crack 1000 points and go to the top of the Hammer Limburg standings ahead of Saturday’s Hammer Sprint.
Sports director Tom Steels was a happy man at the end of the 69.4km race: “I think that we already saw in Norway that Remco is going well and he continued today on a hard course. He rode his own race and ended up crossing the line first, more than a minute clear. We didn’t think today would be our day, as the team was more setup for the sprint and the TTT stages, so this is quite a nice victory.”
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen/ Getty Images