Belgian star Remco Evenepoel described his suffering Saturday after finishing seventh in the opening time-trial nine months after his horror crash. The 21-year-old fractured his pelvis after hitting a bridge wall and plunging into a ravine during the Tour of Lombardy in Italy last August.
“I was very emotional at the start, I had tears in my eyes,” said the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider.
“I didn’t really think about the victory or the pink jersey.
“I just wanted to take advantage, to have a good time-trial.
“Seventh place is fantastic. A short time-trial is not something that favours me. I’m just happy. ”
Evenepoel had been leading the Lombardy classic one-day race when he misjudged a corner and fell 10 metres (30ft) into a ravine. The accident ended an incredible run including victory in the Tour of Poland which had him slated to race the 2020 Giro d’Italia in October where he would have been amongst the favourites.
During his grueling recovery Evenepoel’s prime motivation was to be at the starting line in Turin for his first major Tour in the three-week Giro d’Italia.
On Saturday, Evenepoel finished 19 seconds behind Italian world champion Filippo Ganna who won the 8.6km race against the clock for the second straight year.
“It’s called making a comeback the hard way,” said Evenepoel.
“I didn’t expect to have to suffer so much. I didn’t really think about winning. I just wanted to feel that pain again and I have felt it.”
Portuguese teammate Joao Almeida, fourth overall in last year’s Giro and among the favourites, was fourth fastest on the day, two seconds faster than Evenepoel.
Britian’s Simon Yates, a former Vuelta a Espana winner, and Colombian Egan Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France champion, both finished within a second of each other just under 40 seconds off the pace.
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini