Remco Evenepoel delivered an expected victory on in the Belgium Tour time trial, but the young star had to push hard to beat his compatriot Yves Lampaert.
The second stage of the 2021 Belgium Tour was a prime opportunity for 22-year-old Evenepoel to win the day, after he was beaten into second in a three-rider sprint on stage one.
Stage two was a pan-flat 11.2km-long time trial starting and finishing Knokke-Heist, with just one sharp left-hand turn to navigate on the course.
With TT specialist Victor Campenaerts abandoning the race after going too deep trying to follow Evenepoel on the previous day, the stage looked to be Evenepoel’s to lose as he started the day in the leader’s jersey.
Early in the stage, the battle for the top spot was tight, with Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo), Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Frederik Frison (Lotto-Soudal) all setting strong benchmark times, around the 12-20 mark.
But after Jumbo-Visma’s Finn Fisher-Black put in a storming time to top the leaderboard with 12-18, Deceuninck - Quick-Step’s best time triallists took to the course.
Belgian rider Yves Lampaert ripped around the course with an average speed of 55.84km/h, setting a time of 12-02 to move into the provisional lead, with only Evenepoel likely to topple his compatriot.
Evenepoel took to the course as the last rider in the race wearing the leader’s jersey, and just about matched Lampaert’s time at the intermediate time check, leaving him with work to do in the second part of the course.
But Evenepoel crossed the line with a time of 12-00, fast enough to take the victory just two seconds ahead of Lampaert, with an average speed of 56km/h.
The race continues on stage three with a possible sprint opportunity after 174km racing over lumpy terrain.
Belgium Tour 2021, stage two: Knokke-Heist to Knokke-Heist (11.2km ITT)
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, in 12-00
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 2s
3. Finn Fisher-Black (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 18s
General classification after stage two
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
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