The overall leader of the race gave his best in difficult conditions on Pico del Buitre.
Remco Evenepoel made sure of limiting the losses after an insane day of racing which culminated in a ruthless climb that, as expected, led to some noticeable changes in the general classification, which our rider was leading at the start of stage six.
Crashes, splits in the peloton, countless attacks, abandons – including one of Andrea Bagioli – all these happened in the first hour of racing Thursday afternoon. An incredibly high pace meant that all the breakaway attempts were doomed from the start in the first 50 kilometers of the stage, but once things calmed down a bit, a massive 42-man group got away and put a maximum gap of seven minutes between them and the bunch.
Soudal Quick-Step had Mattia Cattaneo and Louis Vervaeke there, and they both proved of great help on the final climb, where they dropped down from the break to work for Remco Evenepoel. When the going got tough and attacks started flying from all over the place with four kilometers remaining, the Belgian Champion initially relied on the Italian to guide him, before taking matters into his own hands and going at a steady tempo on the steep double-digit gradients of Pico del Buitre.
Remaining calm in these tough moments allowed Evenepoel to limit the losses, which at one point were close to 50 seconds, and conclude the stage only half a minute behind his main rivals, thus keeping a small advantage over them in the overall standings.
“I felt good, but I just couldn’t match the others when they went. I am glad I could limit the damage, riding at my own pace and making a controlled effort. I didn’t have the best legs today, it’s something that happens in cycling, but at least I could find a good tempo in the final kilometers and could even accelerate a bit at one point. Hopefully, this was my bad race of this race”, Remco said at the finish.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images