The Italian showed a lot of grinta on the way to the biggest result of his career.
Andrea Bagioli signed off Soudal Quick-Step’s 49th podium in a Monument, after an enormous ride in what was the 24-year-old’s last race for the team. Bagioli capped off what has been a tremendous week for him, which started with a third place in Coppa Bernocchi, continued with a spectacular victory in Gran Piemonte, and came to a conclusion on his home roads of Lombardia, where he took his first top three finish in a Monument.
The man from Sondrio – a town lying around 90 kilometers from Bergamo, where the race ended – rode a flawless race, following all the big moves when the peloton exploded on Passo di Ganda and staying with the big favourites as the road became steeper close to the top of the climb. It was on the technical descent that Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) jumped clear, which eventually led to him winning the race, but Andrea continued to put in a fantastic display behind, part of a chasing group that included riders with a fantastic pedigree.
Riding in the company of Monument and Grand Tour winners wasn’t something unnerving for the young Italian, who took some long pulls there and climbed with ease each time the road went up, while remaining attentive and responding to the others’ moves. In the reduced sprint, Bagioli produced an impressive speed that allowed him to come from fourth wheel to clinch second place at the 117th edition of Il Lombardia – a result that cemented Soudal Quick-Step’s position on the podium of the UCI Team Classification.
“My first podium in a Monument, behind Pogacar, but in front of other amazing riders – this is something I can’t believe. I rode a perfect race and gave everything to stay with the best when the attacking began. I am happy I could win the sprint for second, despite having cramps, and with bringing my time with the team to an end with this great result. I’m sad that I am leaving and I want to thank the Wolfpack for these unforgettable four years! I am delighted that I say goodbye after an incredible week, it’s a really beautiful way to do it”, Andrea said after the race.
Remco Evenepoel was another Soudal Quick-Step rider to impress with his fighting spirit Saturday afternoon. The Belgian Champion crashed early into the race and suffered abrasions to his elbow and gluteus, and this led to him being dropped on the penultimate difficulty of the day, but staying true to his character, Evenepoel never gave up and continued to pull hard behind, eventually concluding ninth the last Monument of the season.
“I felt good, but towards the end of the race I began feeling the consequences of the crash more and more. Despite the incident, I could still come in the top ten, which shows that the legs were good but I missed something due to the crash. In the end, second and ninth for the team today isn’t too bad. Next Sunday I will go one more time full gas at the Chrono des Nations, and then I will enjoy a nice vacation, as it has been quite a long season”, Remco explained.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images