In the end, Remco Evenepoel got more or less what he wanted from the first mountain rendezvous of the Giro d’Italia by conceding the pink jersey to the breakaway at Lago Laceno, but the manner in which it was achieved left something to be desired.
Evenepoel, of course, looked as comfortable as ever on the climb of the Colle Molella, but his isolation in the finale of stage 4 will surely be a concern. He crossed the line in a group of 24 that featured five riders from Ineos and three from Jumbo-Visma – but none from Soudal-QuickStep other than the world champion himself.
In the immediate aftermath of the stage, directeur sportif Klaas Lodewyck downplayed the absence of teammates by Evenepoel’s side, pointing out that he could have covered any attacks by himself in the closing kilometres. Perhaps, but in a race of three weeks, it’s best to avoid having to solve problems alone too often. It also hardly augurs well for his level of support on more arduous climbing days to come.
“We did a good job as a team,” Lodewyck said, pointing out that his riders had already been forced to chase down attack after attack in a relentless opening two hours of racing that took the gruppo across some rugged terrain.
Some of the better climbers, like Louis Vervaeke, thus found themselves compelled to work in the valley before the Colle Molella. “The boys had already given a lot themselves,” Lodewyck said. “And Remco felt very good. He could have answered the attacks by himself.”
To the surprise of some in the Soudal-QuickStep camp, no such attacks materialised, with Ineos preferring to set a brisk tempo on the front of the pink jersey group rather than send riders on the offensive. Control was the byword for Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart, though one wonders if they missed a trick by not dispatching someone – Pavel Sivakov, perhaps – up the road to test the waters.
On the plateau that led from the top of the climb to the finish, meanwhile, Ineos rode with the vague aim of reducing the gap to the break and keeping Evenepoel in the pink jersey, though it appears that this particular game of 3D chess came as something of an afterthought. “I did ask what the time gap was because it would have been nice to have flicked him,” Thomas smiled afterwards.
Instead, the pink jersey group came home just over two minutes down on stage winner Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroen), which allowed fellow escapee Andreas Leknessund (DSM) to take hold of the pink jersey, while…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at CyclingNews RSS Feed…