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.