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The turning point of a career

09/05/2023

Tappa Lago Laceno

It does not have to be a single victory to propel an athlete into a new dimension, to make all the world know his name, to give him inexplicable happiness. Just ask Andreas Leknessund, who at Lake Laceno achieved the sweetest 2nd place of his career, a 2nd place that earned him the Maglia Rosa of the Giro d’Italia.

Here is a relatively unknown 23-year-old Norwegian guy, born in Tromsø, who suddenly finds himself on the front pages of every sports magazine in Europe: he is leading the Corsa Rosa, he has snatched the symbol of supremacy from Remco Evenepoel. Let’s be honest, the Belgian of Soudal-QuickStep had clearly announced that he would gladly give up the Rosa today, so as to avoid a bit of stress and hard work in the coming days, but that doesn’t mean that Leknessund didn’t have to fight for it, on the contrary.

There were at least 60-70 riders coveting that pink jersey today, and the first 90 kilometres of the 175-kilometre Venosa-Lake Laceno were chaotic like few others. Attacks, counter-attacks, crashes, withdrawals, crazy descents: to win today required legs and tactical sagacity. Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen), Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) had both and quickly realised that they were in with a chance of winning the stage and the Maglia Rosa.

Everything came down to the hardest three kilometres of the Colle Molella climb towards Lake Laceno, when Leknessund forced the pace, dropping his opponents one after the other. All except one, Frenchman Paret-Peintre, who got detached for a short while but then, with pride and stubbornness, managed to regain the Norwegian’s wheel. At that point, it was a classic win-win situation: the transalpine won the stage, Leknessund the Maglia Rosa.

And from tomorrow, we will no longer have to look for Evenepoel to find that beautiful Maglia Rosa in the middle of the peloton, but the Norwegian from Team DSM. And woe betide anyone who underestimates him, because the guy has a big engine, has placed in several prestigious one-week stage races, won the Arctic Race of Norway and a stage in the Tour of Switzerland in 2022. His Giro is already a success and he has nothing to lose… why wake up from this dream?

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