It was Remco Evenepoel’s first win since that horrible crash at Il Lombardia and the 21 year old couldn’t have been happier. Recapturing that winning feeling, after 10 months that included a challenging rehabilitation, was always going to be a welcome moment for the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider but it was a victory made even more special because it came on home soil in the time trial on stage 2 of the Baloise Belgium Tour.
“I think tonight it will sink in and maybe the emotions will come out,” said Evenepoel. “Already now I start to feel it a bit. It’s crazy, it feels really good.”
When Evenepoel launched from the start ramp of the 11.2 kilometre time trial, teammate Yves Lampaert was already sitting in the hotseat with a time of 12:02. The mark was a big improvement on Lampaert's nearest rival Finn Fisher-Black (Jumbo-Visma), with the 16 seconds leap raising the bar considerably for outright favourite Evenepoel.
After clocking a time one second slower than his teammate at the intermediate check for a while it looked like Evenepoel may just have to wait a while longer to rack up his 15th win as a professional. However, with the magnitude of the effort showing in his face, he came over the line with a time of 12 minutes. He had beaten teammate Lampaert by just two seconds.
“I can’t put into words how happy I am! This winning feeling is something that was missing since last year’s Tour de Pologne and I am relieved that I took the stage today,” said Evenepoel after the time trial in Knokke-Heist. “I went through some difficult months with the rehabilitation, so it feels quite nice to win in this discipline that I love so much and contribute to the team’s superb tally.”
The Belgian rider, who turned professional with Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2019 and has signed with them through to the end of 2026, delivered the squad's 25th victory this season. It was a win that came not only after a tough rehabilitation but a difficult re-introduction to racing after eight months away. His Giro d’Italia started well enough, with a rise to second place on the overall, but in the second half he tumbled down the GC ranks and then out of the race after a crash on stage 17 during the descent of the Passo San Valentino.
“Everyone here supported and believed in me, and for that I am grateful,” said Evenepoel. “It’s my first win of the season and achieving it on home soil makes it even more special. My only regret is that there wasn’t a way to be two riders on the podium, as Yves was very strong and would have deserved the victory as well.”
The Deceuninck-QuickStep pair now sit in first and second on the overall, with Evenepoel 45 seconds ahead of his teammate after Lampaert jumped ten spots on the overall after the time trial.
“The GC picture looks great at the moment for us, but it’s far from being over, so we’ll continue to remain focused until Sunday,” said Evenepoel, who won the Belgium Tour in 2019.
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