Remco Evenepoel crushed his rivals in the time trial stage of the Vuelta a San Juan, taking his first victory of the year and moving into the race lead.
The European TT champion said the short 15km test felt like ‘the longest time trial of his life’ as he put 30 seconds into his nearest rival.
Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) ripped around the course with an average speed of 47km/h on his Specialized road bike, posting a time of 19-16, while Filippo Ganna (racing for the Italian national squad rather than Team Ineos) took second.
Speaking after his victory, 20-year-old Evenepoel said: “The time trial was short, but it felt like the longest one I did in my life because of the straight roads, even the climb felt endless.
“I went for the win and getting it makes me happy.
“Today I gained time on the flat, where I could sustain a strong pace, but also on the climb where I accelerated.
“This means I had good legs, which is a nice feeling so early in the season.”
Evenepoel surged into the race lead with the emphatic TT victory, raced over 15.2km from Ullum to Punta Negra, just outside the western city of San Juan in Argentina.
He leads overall by 32 seconds over Ganna with four stages left to race.
The stage victory is the first of the year for Evenepoel and his sixth win since his revelatory first season with Quick-Step last year.
The Belgian added: “It was my first time trial of the year, my first time in the European champion’s jersey, and my first victory.
“It’s nice to be atop the overall standings, but we can’t lose our focus are there are still four stages to go.
“I’m not thinking about winning the GC, just taking it one day at a time, continue helping the team whenever and wherever I can, and we’ll just see at the end of the week where that takes me.”