Remco Evenepoel’s road to Rome and victory in the Giro d’Italia ends suddenly and unexpectedly when only nine of the 21 stages have been ridden. A few hours after regaining the leader’s pink jersey, after competing and winning, by nine hundredths of a second, in the Cesena time trial, the world champion underwent a covid test as part of the protocol established by his team, Soudal , the eve of today’s rest day. Only one of the eight runners, him, tested positive. The runner leaves the race and will leave today by car for his home, in Calpe, according to his team. “I am very sorry to have to leave the Giro,” says the runner in a statement issued by Soudal. “My experience here these nine days has been magnificent, and I was looking forward to continuing racing. I cannot thank the team and colleagues enough for all the work and sacrifice they have put into preparing for the Giro. I’ll be cheering them on for the rest of the race”.
The Welshman Geraint Thomas, from Ineos, is the new leader of the race, with two seconds ahead of the Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Jumbo) and five over his English teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart. For Thomas, who turns 37 on the 25th and, aware that this is his last chance, was very depressed after losing the time trial by nine hundredths, the situation is still ironic, since it was him, the winner of the Tour of 2018, who really considered himself cursed by the Giro, a race that he had to abandon due to a fall on both occasions, 2017 and 2020, in which he participated with the intention of winning it.
Evenepoel, who also could not finish the first Giro that started, the one in 2021, the one with the duel with Egan Bernal, victim of several falls, will not know the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, the dolomitic mountain on which Eddy Merckx revealed himself as the greatest in the 1968 Giro. The Italian race loses the runner around whom they all revolved, the sun of so many planets. Fans will be left without the great battle they wanted.
The winner of the last Vuelta (the one that Roglic abandoned due to a fall, winner of the three previous editions), who won the first stage of the Giro, kept the pink jersey for a few days and recovered it yesterday, he is not the only rider who in the last days he must abandon the Giro due to covid. On Saturday the Italian Filippo Ganna withdrew and, shortly before Evenepoel, also the Colombian from EF, Rigo Urán announced that he was leaving the Giro.
Despite having recovered the pink jersey, Evenepoel’s last days in the Giro, in which he showed a drop in his performance, suggested that his conquest of the pink corsa months after winning the Vuelta it was going to be more complicated than I expected. In his statements after a time trial in which he did not get the result he wanted, a cushion of time to face the mountain stages with certain guarantees, Evenepoel, winner of Liège just a month ago, hinted that the main reasons were his lack of experience, the effects of the two falls he suffered last Thursday in the Salerno stage and the rain and cold, elements that had never gone well for him. Precipitation and fear, in addition, he considered the keys to the torment that he suffered at the hands of Roglic in the ascent of the Capuchins, in which he lost 14s, on Saturday. “They have been the two worst days of the Giro,” Evenepoel said before discovering that he was suffering from an apparently asymptomatic covid.
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