The World Champion smashed the individual time trial, becoming the youngest Belgian in 49 years to win a stage at the race.
Remco Evenepoel powered to an impressive victory on stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia (Fossacesia Marina – Ortona, 19.6km) – where he returned after two years – putting some considerable time into his opponents and claiming the coveted maglia rosa.
Soudal Quick-Step’s leader was a man on a mission Saturday afternoon as he left the start house, wasting no time on the flat roads of Abruzzo and almost instantly opening a big gap on all the other riders as he hit a maximum speed exceeding 60km/h. At the half-way mark, the 23-year-old Belgian ITT Champion was more than twenty seconds up on the previous benchmark, and he showed no intention of slowing down, as he prepared to tackle the 2.8km climb to the finish.
Evenepoel continued to fly there and stopped the clock in a stunning 21:18, after averaging a whooping 55.2km/h, a result that made him the youngest Belgian rider since 1974 to score a stage win at the Corsa Rosa. It was Remco’s 42nd pro victory, and his 14th at World Tour level – one that netted the World Champion multiple podium visits, to collect the stage trophy and three jerseys – pink, cyclamen and white.
“I am very happy! It’s a perfect way to come back to the Giro. It’s the best result I could get on this first day of racing, and an important confidence-boost. My main focus today was to go as fast as possible and I can say I went faster than I had expected. I can be content with how things panned out and with my first major win in Italy.”
“Getting the pink jersey wasn’t on my mind, I just tried to do a good race and gain time on the other riders. Nevertheless, to have this iconic jersey is an honour. It’s an iconic garment in cycling and it gives me a great feeling knowing I will sport it on my shoulders”, said the first Belgian rider in 22 years to lead the Giro d’Italia.
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