Filippo Ganna said Remco Evenepoel “had fantastic legs” on stage three of the Giro d’Italia, as he questions how long he can hold onto the pink jersey.
Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) finished safely in the bunch after an unpredictable stage three, holding onto his race lead as Taco van der Hoorn rode to an unexpected breakaway victory.
But after surviving on some tough climbs, Ganna faces another demanding day in the saddle on stage four if he wants to keep his jersey, with another climbing day on the cards.
Speaking after the finish of stage three, the reigning world TT champion said: "We have seen a lot of sprinters being dropped in the climbs, there were not a lot of riders in the main group at the end.
“I saw that Remco had really amazing legs on one of the last climbs. I turned to see him in the big ring on the front and I thought ‘wow amazing legs for him’.
“We’ll see tomorrow and take it day by day.”
“It will be hard for me to defend the maglia rosa tomorrow, but we will try to defend. We know we have two big leaders in the team.”
Ganna is not expected to maintain the race lead deep into the race, but is instead holding the jersey before the GC contenders begin to move up the rankings in the mountains.
Ineos Grenadiers are riding for their leaders Egan Bernal and Pavel Sivakov, who are both inside a minute of Ganna.
Evenepoel, leading Deceuninck - Quick-Step, is an unknown quantity in his debut Grand Tour, having not raced since he crashed out of Il Lombardia last August.
The 21-year-old Belgian is among the pre-race favourites despite his lack of racing, having won every stage race he entered last season.
He now sits in third place overall, just 20 seconds off the race lead.
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