Deceuninck-QuickStep neo-pro Remco Evenepoel went on the attack at the Velon Hammer Climb in Limburg on Friday, helping rack up more than 1,000 points for his team and giving them a more-than-300-point lead over runners-up CCC Team going into Saturday's Hammer Sprint.
Friday's race consisted of eight laps of an 8.4km circuit that featured two climbs, with points available on each of the laps. Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert scored Deceuninck-QuickStep's first points of the day before Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) went clear. Evenepoel was the only rider to respond as he quickly bridged across to the 2016 Olympic champion.
Two more riders joined as the lead group grew to four riders and opened a half a minute over the next five laps. Evenepoel continued to score well, consistently featuring among the top two at the top of the Vaalserberg climb.
"The team wanted me to take as much points as possible, and I think I did my job well," Evenepoel said. "After that small group went clear, I made sure of joining them and scoring points at each sprint."
Evenepoel wasn't happy with just taking the lead, however, and the 19-year-old picked up more points on the final lap with a daring attack on the downhill, getting a quick gap and then accelerating out of sight. He mopped up maximum points on the run in to the finish, taking his gap out to more than a minute as the chasers struggled to match his pace.
Deceuninck-QuickStep director Tom Steels was obviously pleased with the impressive performance put in by his young charge.
“I think that we already saw in Norway that Remco is going well, and he continued today on a hard course," Steels said. "He rode his own race and ended up crossing the line first, more than a minute clear. We didn’t think today would be our day, as the team was more set up for the sprint and the TTT stages, so this is quite a nice victory."
The Hammer Limburg continues Saturday with the Hammer Sprint and concludes Sunday with the team time trial event. Deceuninck-QuickStep currently lead CCC Team by 344 points, with Lotto Soudal in third at 380 points back.
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