Evenepoel puts in flying ride on Itzulia opener
Remco Evenepoel came close to what would have been his fourth victory of the season on stage 1 of the Itzulia Basque Country – a 7.5km individual time trial held over a technical course featuring short but sharp climbs around charming Hondarribia, a stone’s throw from the French border.
The last Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider to leave the start ramp, Evenepoel produced a huge ride on what was the shortest Itzulia stage against the clock in the last two decades, leaving absolutely everything out there before stopping the clock in 9:53 – the first rider to break the sub 10-minute barrier. The result moved him into the hot seat, where up until that point teammate Rémi Cavagna had been, thanks to a splendid display that confirmed the Frenchman’s prowess in the time trial.
Only one rider could bump Remco from the top of the classification, and that was Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), who improved his time by five seconds. Despite not taking the victory and concluding again second in a World Tour ITT, just like in Tirreno-Adriatico last month, the 22-year-old Belgian found reasons to smile at the finish, as he made a visit to the podium twice, to be awarded the KOM and best young rider jerseys.
“I knew it was going to be a hard time trial, with some technical parts, but I did everything that I could and rode as fast as possible. I don’t have any regrets, because just one guy was better than me today. I am a bit disappointed, as I came here with a good condition and wanted to win, but I am confident other opportunities will come this week”, said Evenepoel after his sixth podium of the season.
Photo credit: ©Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images