Remco Evenepoel said “he felt his legs were empty” on the brutal gravel roads of the Giro d’Italia on stage 11, as he lost time to the favourites.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider Evenepoel battled hard but finally lost contact with the general classification favourites 20km from the finish in Montalcino, losing time but not his confidence.
Speaking after the finish the 21-year-old, who hadn’t race for nine months before the Giro due to injury, said: “Unfortunately, I lost two minutes. It wasn’t the best day for me. I was suffering a lot on the second sector, then on the third one, when they started sprinting, I felt the legs were pretty empty, that’s why I was in the last position and couldn’t follow.
“It’s the way my body reacted after eleven days of racing that came after so much time with no racing. I’m thankful to the team and João [Almeida] for the job they did for me today, from the start until the finish.”
After finishing 26th on the stage, 2-06 down on Bernal, Evenepoel slipped from second place overall down to seventh, now 2-22 off the maglia rosa.
But there is cause for hope for the rising star - in the gravel stage to Montalcino in the 2010 Giro, Ivan Basso lost two minutes before going on to win the race overall.
“It’s not a good result for me, but I’m still seventh in my first Grand Tour and remain confident, as there’s still a long way to go until Milano”, said Evenepoel after Wednesday’s stage.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck said: “We knew it would be a difficult stage. We lost some time, but considering the circumstances, it’s not the end of the world. We aren’t the only ones who lost time, it was a hard stage for a lot of riders. We continue to remain optimistic and motivated ahead of the big mountain stages.”
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