Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s youngsters hope to be in the thick of the action in the next three weeks, at the first Grand Tour of the season.
The 104th Giro d’Italia is about to start and Deceuninck – Quick-Step is hoping to create some beautiful memories again. João Almeida, who wore the maglia rosa for 15 consecutive days last year and finished fourth in the GC, is keen to fight for a good result as he makes a return at the Corsa Rosa, together with the help of his team, which includes Remco Evenepoel.
“I learned from last year that the last week makes the big difference and it’s really important to manage our energy, also for the last day with the time trial. Last year the Giro was a surprise. I had a lot of success, but my mindset is just to take it day by day as always. I want to go for a good place in the general classification, but the race is going to be hard. I’m really excited to be here, I think it’s going to be fun.”
The legs will have to do the talking and then we’ll see.
“There are a lot of candidates, which definitely won’t make things easy, but we are confident and start with optimism what we hope will be a beautiful three weeks.”
After a breakout ride at last year’s edition, João know that now his opponents will be watching him more closely: “In Catalunya I already felt they looked more at me. If you are unknown, you can still hide a bit. Now I just want to make some nice memories again with the team. I’m super happy to be back racing with Remco, I think we can show some really good stuff together and help the team get some nice results in this special race.”
For Remco Evenepoel it will be his first race – and first Grand Tour, for that matter – after his crash in Il Lombardia last season, so the 21-year-old Belgian doesn’t know what to expect, but is determined to give everything.
“It’s my first race after the crash, so I don’t know yet how my body will react. It has been too long to say I’m better than last year, we will see day by day. The goal here is just to feel well in the bunch again and get that racing feeling again and having a lot of fun together with the guys, because I missed racing for too long. I’m not yet thinking about the early mountain top finishes. Nine months without racing can really make you sad, so I just want to enjoy every single moment spent here together with the guys and feel good on my bike. Hopefully we can create some great memories together. I think you can’t prepare for a race 100% without racing, but that’s the risk that we took.”
Starting here at the Giro with this amazing team is incredible and I am super excited about this!
“Tuesday, João and me did the recon of the stage to Montalcino. We were quite happy with the course. It’s 35 kilometers of white roads, but most of the sectors are uphill so it suits us quite well. It’s going to be a really hard stage and can play a big role in the general classification, so we’re glad we discovered that roads before the race”, Remco added. “As for Saturday, I’ll just go full gas for nine kilometers. Then we will see, with the World Champion at the start it’s always hard to beat that guy in a time trial, but we hope Rémi can do something, as he has shown recently that he is in a very good condition. I will just try to go as fast as possible and then I’ll have nothing to complain about.”
Photo credit: ©Wout Beel