Remco Evenepoel is happy to have limited his losses after the tough final gravel climb on stage nine of the 2021 Giro d'Italia.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step team-mate João Almeida could be seen looking around for the Belgian in the closing kilometres, as Evenepoel found himself towards the back of the GC group.
But after Ineos Grenadiers' Egan Bernal skipped away to claim his maiden Grand Tour stage victory and the maglia rosa, the 21-year-old fought back to finish fourth, limiting his losses to the Colombian to just 10 seconds on the road, Bernal also taking bonus seconds on the line to push his GC lead out to 15 seconds over Evenepoel.
"The start of the day was very hard, but the toughest moment of the day came on the white gravel roads. I was in a good position in the tunnel, when a team-mate of Bernal almost touched his wheel and because of that I lost some places," Evenepoel said after the finish.
"It’s racing and it happens, but the good thing is that I could gain a couple of positions by the time I arrived at the finish, where I just missed out on the bonus seconds. Fortunately, I didn’t concede that much time, which is good ahead of next week. We can be proud of our work and of how the team rode today."
Evenepoel remains second in the general classification ahead of a flatter day tomorrow and then Tuesday's rest day. This being his debut Grand Tour, it's already the longest the young rider has raced in his career so far, and he is now in unknown territory.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step's GC ambitions solely rest in the hands of Evenepoel, with João Almeida and Fausto Masnada sitting five and six minutes down on GC respectively.
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