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A league of his own


Let’s be honest about it! Who would have expected such a blow in the very first round? Very few to say the least! Today, Remco Evenepoel showed not only an amazing physical condition, but he seemed to be at a level he had perhaps never reached before. Why? Because of Ganna. The locomotive from Verbania delivered an outstanding time trial, just think that he managed to beat his long-time rival Stefan Küng by 21 seconds, yet the Italian had to bow to the strength of the Flemish baby phenomenon.

Slapping 22 seconds off Ganna in an individual time trial that was almost entirely flat and not even that long, 19.6 km to be exact, is tangible evidence of just how strong Remco was today. 55.2 km/h average speed, with the last 3 km slightly uphill, is an eye-watering performance, something that clearly tells us that the first Maglia Rosa of this Giro d’Italia might well be the last.

The much-anticipated first head-to-head clash between Evenepoel and Primož Roglič ended with a resounding defeat for the latter, which we are sure not even the Slovenian could have expected. The captain of Jumbo-Visma did an all-in-all good race, absolutely in line with that of the other favourites, but today the World Champion delivered a world class performance and a 43″ margin not even 20 km into the competition is honestly a lot.

No drama at all, let’s be clear! The race could ignite anytime due to Roglič’s necessary comeback attempt, bearing in mind what Jumbo-Visma was capable of pulling off at last year’s Tour de France to successfully send Tadej Pogačar into trouble and lead Jonas Vingegaard to victory. Evenepoel’s masterpiece could therefore prompt the rivals to react with pride right from the next few stages. There is no time for waiting around or playing tactics, otherwise Evenepoel might well gain giant gaps. Remember that another time trial is coming up on Stage 9, from Savignano sul Rubicone to Cesena for a total 35 km, and a Remco in this shape can take minutes off everyone.

Exactly 50 years ago, among other things, his compatriot Eddy Merckx won the Giro d’Italia by remaining in the Maglia Rosa from the first to the last day. Could Remco be looking to take it all the way to Rome as the undisputed ruler? Hard to say now, but in the coming days it wouldn’t be surprising to see Soudal-QuickStep “lend” the Maglia Rosa to a rider who, on paper, looks less dangerous, so as to avoid the stress, however honourable, of being No. 1 all the way through. In the meantime, everyone else has found a king to dethrone.

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