Remco Evenepoel has glossed over tensions within his Deceuninck-QuickStep team after he lost two minutes on the sterrato to Montalcino at the Giro d'Italia, citing radio problems for the delay in João Almeida dropping back to help him and explaining that he took out his radio earpiece because he was going so deep that he “didn’t need the commentary for a while.”
The 21-year-old Belgian said he suffered and lost time simply because of “bad legs” but that he will continue to target the overall classification. He opted not to talk post-stage after being selected for anti-doping, only giving a short reaction via the Deceuninck-QuickStep team and then adding “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” via social media.
Evenepoel was more forthcoming and more upbeat at the start of stage 12 in Siena. His teammates were subsequently given the freedom to go on the attack, but key mountain domestique Fausto Masanada abandoned early on the stage.
“It was just bad legs,” Evenepoel said. “I’m still only a minute off the podium, so there’s nothing lost there. There are still a lot of stages to come.”
Almeida was reported by Portuguese newspaper A Bola as saying he had hoped to ride for himself during the stage, despite having already slipped out of overall contention.
“I felt good. I had the chance to race with the best, but I had to follow orders from the support car to wait for Remco,” A Bola report Almeida as saying.
“Do I feel disappointed? I'd rather be silent than saying what I think. Cycling is a collective sport and the sporting directors are the ones who are in charge.”
Evenepoel preferred to blame radio technology rather than explain why his teammate did not immediately stay with him when he was distanced on the late drift roads.
Almeida eventually did drop back and worked hard to limit the time loss but seemed disappointed to have missed out on a chance to climb back into the top ten overall.
“There is nothing to blame him for,” Evenepoel explained.
“I think he heard a little late that I was dropped. The moment I was dropped, I shouted, I said I was having trouble following, and I think he just heard a bit late. Also in the car they didn’t see it, because there was no connection for their TV. There was a lot of bad luck yesterday.”
Evenepoel angrily removed his earpiece at one point as he struggled along alone.
“I was going so deep that I didn't need the commentary for a while. It wasn't negative, but I didn't want to hear it all. A real unlucky day,” he said.
It was widely suggested that Evenepoel struggled to ride at speed on the dirt roads, perhaps fearful of crashing after his high-speed fall and serious injuries at last year’s Il lombardia. However he dismissed that idea.
“I had an off day. It can happen after my nine months without competition,” he said.
“I didn’t have a problem with the gravel, On the first sector we were in a good position but then some guys in front of us had problems. I had no problem with the grave, it was just a bad day, with bad legs.
“Going into sector 3, everyone started to sprint to get there and I didn’t have the legs anymore so I lost a lot of positions.”
Evenepoel started the stage just 14 seconds down on Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) but lost 2:08 and slipped to eighth overall at 2:22.
Saturday’s stage to the summit of Monte Zoncolan will be a real test of Evenepoel’s overall ambitions but he is not throwing in the towel yet.
“I lost some time, but in the end, I am only one minute off the podium, so nothing has been lost yet,” he pointed out.
“Going for a stage win instead of the classification is difficult if you are only two minutes behind, they don't just let you ride away.”
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