Vincenzo Nibali has identified Remco Evenepoel as a "real rival" when the young Belgian sensation takes the start line in his first Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia later this year.
Evenepoel was first to the summit finish on stage two of the Volta ao Algarve, attacking with 200m to go and beating a number of elite and experienced climbers including Nibali, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana).
The victory is only the 20-year-old's eighth professional win, and Nibali remembers one performance from the Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider in last year's Deutschland Tour that highlighted his talent.
"In one of the stages, he attacked a hundred kilometers from the finish. I was very impressed," Nibali told Wielerflits. "The performances he put in over the following weeks confirmed my feeling and his victory today really proves that he is an extraordinary talent if you can do this at the age of 20."
Following a silver medal in the elite men's time trial at the Yorkshire World Championships, Evenepoel began 2020 with overall victory at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, and now looks set to defend the race lead at the Volta ao Algarve with an individual time trial still to come.
Later in the year, Evenepoel will make his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia, which Vincenzo Nibali will be focusing on instead of the Tour de France, and the Italian sees the Belgian as a rival for the top of the general classification.
"He will be a real rival, I think," Nibali said. "His only downside is that he is still young. How does a twenty-year-old rider cope with a three-week race? Young riders need some time before they can really compete for a Grand Tour victory. But I gradually get the feeling that this theory does not hold true for Remco Evenepoel."
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