After coming into the Giro d'Italia as a favourite, Remco Evenepoel's race came to an end after a dramatic crash on stage 17 on the descent of the Passo San Valentino. Evenepoel finished the stage 35 minutes behind winner Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) but his Deceuninck-Quickstep team announced late Wednesday that he would abandon the race.
"Of course it's sad to leave the race, and my first Grand Tour too early, but in the end, it was a nice experience and I hope to be back one day again. I'm wishing the best to all my Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates," Evenepoel said in a press release.
The Belgian had been dropped at the base of the category 1 Passo San Valentino but had put in a vigorous chase to rejoin the maglia rosa group. On the descent, a rider ahead misjudged a tight right-hand bend and went down with 25km to go, sparking a mass crash.
While trying to avoid the pile-up, Evenepoel ran wide and flipped up and over the metal guard rail in a fall, startlingly similar to his Il Lombardia crash but fortunately with less of a drop.
The 21-year-old got up and received attention from the race medics who bandaged his left arm before he continued down the descent.
Deceuninck-QuickStep said examinations found no fractures, but had Evenepoel had cuts on his hand, elbows, tailbone, and knee, and swelling in his elbows.
"Following the diagnosis the medical team decided that it would be best if Remco was to leave the race and recover completely as fast as possible, before working towards his goals for later in the season," Deceuninck-Quickstep said.
Evenepoel got as high as second place overall in the first half of the race, first with a strong ride to San Giacomo and another top finish at Campo Felice on stage 9. However, his race began to come unglued on the gravel roads of Tuscany on the stage to Montalcino, where he lost over two minutes. He gave up more time on the Monte Zoncolan, but his GC ambitions evaporated on the cold and rainy, shortened stage to Cortina d'Ampezzo on Monday when he conceded 24 minutes.
He was disappointed to leave the Giro d'Italia nonetheless.
"In the end it was a crash that shouldn't have happened," Evenepoel said. "I don't know what really happened in front of me, but I came into the corner and saw some guys on the ground and I couldn't pass on the right side because I was next to another guy, so I didn't have any chances to avoid a crash.
"For now, there isn't anything broken, but I have a lot of contusions, it doesn't make a lot of sense to carry on with this pain. So I go back to Belgium and go for some CT scans. Then we will see."
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