It was no surprise when Remco Evenepoel claimed the maglia rosa after stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia, even if we all thought Filippo Ganna would rival the world champion more closely. He couldn’t match him. Nobody could. Evenepoel seemed unbeatable.
Yet a week is a long time at the Giro d’Italia, more so than in any other Grand Tour.
Even before the news of his COVID-19 positive broke on Sunday evening, nobody was talking about Evenepoel dominating the race anymore after his narrow win in the stage 9 time trial. The plan that had been so successful for the Soudal-QuickStep leader in most stage races – win the time trials, follow on the climbs – was looking a bit shaky to say the least.
It was all going so perfectly for a while, even to the point of looking like a foregone conclusion, but then dogs, desperados and damage showed a few chinks in Evenepoel’s amour.
There is no race like the Giro d’Italia for drama and uncertainty.
Coming into the Giro, Evenepoel and his team must have been aware that this opening phase would see him ride more consecutive race days – nine – than he had ever done before and he would have trained accordingly, but they couldn’t have imagined that he’d also have crashed twice. That’s not something anyone practices.
Not even Evenepoel’s strength could save him from the randomness of first week luck, which all riders encounter at one time or another.
On Saturday, you wondered if it had caught up with him. But now, all conjecture about the reasons for his weekend performances is moot. COVID-19 is back in the peloton and has claimed another casualty. Evenepoel has gone home.
Geoghegan Hart the happiest
We can expect a very different race now that one of the main favourites is out, especially as the other, Primož Roglič, has had his own setbacks too.
Ineos Grenadiers have the strongest collective, as we’ve seen when the road rises, but with Evenepoel gone, their race changes from one of looking for opportunities to suddenly having to adopt much more responsibility.
Being the new race leader has its good and bad points for Geraint Thomas, though personally I think the happiest person on the team will be Tao Geoghegan Hart. No media requirements, no podium visits unless he wins, way less pressure, and less interest in how he’s feeling or what he is thinking. It’s all going to add up to more recovery time and energy for the feared…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at CyclingNews RSS Feed…