Soudal Quick-Step’s leader remains on the podium after the first climbing test of the race.
Rain and cold temperatures, chaos and confusions, and a change at the top of the general classification in Lago Laceno – in short, an eventful day spent by the Corsa Rosa in southern Italy. At the end of it, Remco Evenepoel traded the maglia rosa for the rainbow jersey, which he will sport for the first time since his monumental Liège–Bastogne–Liège win during Wednesday’s hilly stage 5 to Salerno.
The first 80 kilometers of racing had everything, except a breakaway. Attacks came thick and fast from the beginning, but the peloton reacted to all of these moves before splitting at one point, which brought a bit of panic – only for a short moment though, as a regrouping took place. Our squad kept a close eye on things and after the first classified climb of the stage, emerged at the front of the peloton to set the tempo behind an eight-man breakaway.
The first rider to put his name on the winners’ list at this edition, Remco was protected by his teammates, who did a spectacular job behind the escapees, all the way until mid-way up Colle Molella (9.6km, 6.2%). In part thanks to this strong effort, things remained calm on that ascent, while at the front the remaining breakaway riders had their battle for the win, which went to Aurelien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen). The main bunch arrived around two minutes behind new GC leader Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), and Evenepoel was there, safely tucked in the group that numbered only 20-odd riders.
“I’m not sad about not having the pink jersey anymore. On Wednesday I will wear the rainbow jersey, which is more than fine with me. I’m only 20-30 seconds behind in the standings, so things are good. Today was a hard stage, very hectic and with a high average speed especially in the first part, but the team did a solid job, while I had a good feeling the entire time, and I’m satisfied with that”, said Remco, who sits second in the overall ranking.
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