On the eve of the first foray into the high mountains, Remco Evenepoel healed his wounds on the Tour of Italy on Thursday in Naples where Mads Pedersen entered the closed club of stage winners in the three Grand Tours.
Under a returning sun, Evenepoel, who had fallen heavily twice on wet roads the day before, was able to take advantage of this short (162 km) and relatively calm sixth stage to regain color, dressed in his rainbow jersey. of world champion.
In a very postcard setting, with Pompei, the foot of Vesuvius and the sublime Amalfi Coast on the course, the Belgian stayed warm in the peloton which quickly let a breakaway slip away. Before catching up, in a cruel game of cat and mouse, the last two survivors, Simon Clarke and Alessandro Di Marchi, just 300 meters from the line.
Very moved on arrival, the two unfortunates, 36 years old each, congratulated and above all consoled each other for a long time. “We missed ten seconds. I would have preferred them to catch us ten kilometers earlier. I collapsed”, commented Clarke.
Mads Pedersen, world champion in 2019, took the opportunity to raise his arms for the first time in the Giro, after his victory last year in the Tour de France and his three successes in the Tour of Spain in stride, becoming the 104th runner in history to win in all three events.
“I’m really sorry for both guys. They weren’t easy to catch, all the sprinting teams had to throw their available men into battle. But I’m very happy, I came for this,” commented Danish.
A massive arrival in the sprint, without falling, it’s exactly the day that Remco Evenepoel dreamed of after his double gadin the day before when he went to the mat first because of a dog, then in a totally chaotic final.
“It was a good day to rotate the legs and test the muscles. It was a good recovery day for me,” Evenepoel said after the Eurosport microphone stage.
“Dealing with Pain”
Victim of a large muscle hematoma and trauma to the sacrum, he managed to spend “a good night”, as he confided at the start. “I have back pain, I have big bruises. But that’s life, that’s racing. You have to try to manage the pain as best you can and relax because I think I need a lot energy to heal my wounds,” added the Belgian, who remains second overall behind Norway’s pink jersey Andreas Leknessund.
And energy, he will need it on Friday since it is a real mountain stage which awaits the riders, with a first foray into high altitude.
The finish will be judged at 2,130 meters at the top of the Gran Sasso d’Italia, after a very long ascent of 26 km offering a modest average percentage (3.4%) but which gets seriously tough in the last four kilometers (8.2 %).
Either a ramp conducive to a first great explanation between favorites, some of whom may be tempted to go and test the true state of form of Evenepoel.
“I hope not to have a bad day tomorrow, we’ll see,” said the Belgian. Who is all the more suspicious that in September, before winning the Vuelta, he had experienced a small failure during the 14th stage, two days after a fall.
“Remco keeps smiling, as always. We took the time yesterday to check that he did not have a serious injury. He is ready to go to the end of this Giro, without a doubt”, assured one of his directors sportsmen, Klaas Lodewyck.