Stage 11) Perugia - Montalcino
Italy Wednesday 19 May 2021 162 km
Evenepoel fights valiantly at the Giro d’Italia
After a well-deserved rest day, the Giro d’Italia recommenced with a 162km stage through Umbria and Tuscany, which packed some 35 kilometers of up-and-down white roads and leg-sapping ramps in the final two hours. This made for some brutal racing, an attritional day in the saddle which took its toll on many of the riders, who ended up losing minutes on the punishing sterrate.
Remco Evenepoel was among those, after getting dropped with twenty kilometers to go, on the third and the penultimate ascent. The 21-year-old Belgian managed somehow to keep the pink jersey in sight and kept putting in a determined effort, but as the gradient stiffened, he began to struggle and lose more time on the other GC contenders, who increased the tempo upon hearing the news. Fortunately, João Almeida was there, dropping back from the main group to help his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammate limit the losses in the last part of this complicated stage.
Eventually, Evenepoel arrived in Montalcino around two minutes down on the maglia rosa, but he wasn’t deterred by what happened in this unique and harsh day of racing, opting to look at the whole picture in a different and much positive way, especially as he arrived at this point of the Giro after a difficult injury and nine long months without a single day of racing in his legs.
“Unfortunately, I lost two minutes. It wasn’t the best day for me. I was suffering a lot on the second sector, then on the third one, when they started sprinting, I felt the legs were pretty empty, that’s why I was in the last position and couldn’t follow. It’s the way my body reacted after eleven days of racing that came after so much time with no racing. I’m thankful to the team and João for the job they did for me today, from the start until the finish. It’s not a good result for me, but I’m still seventh in my first Grand Tour and remain confident, as there’s still a long way to go until Milano”, said Remco after Wednesday’s stage.
“We knew it would be a difficult stage. We lost some time, but considering the circumstances, it’s not the end of the world. We aren’t the only ones who lost time, it was a hard stage for a lot of riders. We continue to remain optimistic and motivated ahead of the big mountain stages”, added Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images