Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) has crashed during his final goal of the season at Il Lombardia, 217km from the finish in Bergamo after just under half an hour of racing, but has ridden on despite a bloodied knee and elbow.
The Belgian Champion went down in an incident involving Sjoerd Bax (UAE Team Emirates) and Giovanni Aleotti (Bora-Hansgrohe), with his Soudal-QuickStep teammates waiting for him as he gingerly got back to his feet, slowly remounted the bike and got going after initially staying down after crashing.
Aleotti and Evenepoel returned to the peloton, after receiving treatment at the doctor’s car, which sat just over three minutes down on the peloton at the time of writing just before the first climb of the day up the fabled Madonna del Ghisallo (8.8 km à 3.9%), whereas Bax was unfortunately forced to abandon the race.
Evenepoel had started at today’s Il Lombardia as one of the headline favourites, searching for redemption from his horrific crash in 2020 at this very race where he fractured his pelvis and looking to bookend another fantastic season with a third Monument victory.
Despite the sport’s discourse being dominated by rumours of a Jumbo-Visma, Soudal-QuickStep merger, reports yesterday from Belgian media stated that the fusion is off the table and Evenepoel won’t be heading to any ‘mega-team’.
The Belgian superstar insisted this morning that his focus had been clear on Il Lombardia and that the rumours hadn’t distracted him from chasing this final goal of 2023.
“No, personally the way I handled was just to not care too much about it and see what was going to happen and focus on this goal,” said Evenepoel before the start of Il Lombardia. “Now we will see in the next few days how it will actually develop but I think it didn’t disturb my preparation towards this race.
“It’s the end of the season so you never know how the legs will be, tired or not that’s why I decided not to do any races after the Vuelta because I had a loaded programme towards it.
“I came out of the Vuelta at a very good level, better than I started so I hope I can keep this shape till this race. I hope for some amazing legs today.”
Evenepoel had enjoyed a relaxed morning before his crash, smiling with teammates and sharing a word with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) alongside teammate Julian Alaphilippe as Pinot rides a final, emotional race after a great career.
Evenepoel had spoken about how he wasn’t the only option for Lombardia…