Evenepoel: ‘I just want to finish this Giro’
A little over two weeks into the Giro d’Italia, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) finally dropped out of GC contention altogether on Monday. Having limited his losses reasonably well on a tough days earlier in the race, Evenepoel arrived at the finish line more than 24 minutes down on a cold, wet stage 16 in the Dolomites.
Despite his difficulties, Evenepoel said after the stage that he was hoping to ride on through the final stage in Milan.
“We are now going to enjoy the rest day, and make the best of the last week,” Evenepoel said, according to Wielerflits. “I have never said that I am going to leave the Giro. I will only do that if I don’t feel like I can make it to the end. But I just want to finish this Giro.”
Evenepoel entered the race as something of an unknown commodity after spending roughly nine months out of competition following his crash at Il Lombardia. He looked strong through the first few tests for the GC riders, but struggled on stages 11 and 14. On stage 16, where both the weather and the profile presented challenges for those out on the bike, Evenepoel was dropped before the official start of the final climb and ultimately dropped from seventh to 19th overall.
“Losing that much time shows that I didn’t have a good stage and I really felt the fatigue in my legs,” Evenepoel said via a team press release. “I said even before that I didn’t have any expectations coming into the race after that lengthy injury and with just two months of training, I don’t think everyone thought I could be in top form for three weeks. At the same time, it’s a learning process that I’m sure will help me in the future.”
It wasn’t all bad for Deceuninck-QuickStep on Monday. João Almeida rode to sixth on the day, climbing three spots on the overall leaderboard to move up to 10th overall.
The squad had come into the race with Evenepoel and Almeida expected to share leadership. Those plans changed when Almeida lost time in the first week, but now they have changed again with Almeida in position to battle for a top 10 or better and Evenepoel more than 28 minutes back on race leader Egan Bernal.
While it’s still not clear whether Deceuninck-QuickStep will ultimately decide to keep him in the race, Evenepoel committed to helping Almeida, saying, “I am happy for Joao, he worked hard for me in the last couple of days and deserves to be in the top 10, so we’re going to help him in the remaining stages to achieve this.”