Remco Evenepoel was left disappointed after taking the silver medal in the European Championships in Trento, regretting he was unable to crack Sonny Colbrelli on the final climb and then was unable to beat him in the sprint to the line.
Evenepoel and Belgium, like Colbrelli and Italy, rode a nearly perfect race. The 21-year-old Belgian made sure he was part of the key selection of ten riders and then the final shake-out during the final two laps, but he was simply unable to distance Colbrelli on the final climb up to Povo.
There was no real opportunity to attack on the descent and Colbrelli was by far a superior sprinter. Evenepoel tried to match him in the sprint but Colbrell simply had more power and more speed.
For many riders a silver medal would be considered a success. Not for a rider as ambitious as Evenepoel. He seemed a little frustrated that Colbrelli rode only briefly on the front on the descent to the finish but sportingly said Colbrelli was the deserved winner.
"I can't blame Colbrelli. He was very strong. We were perhaps the strongest in the race. He’s the deserved winner, especially if you’ve seen how it rode in recent weeks," Evenepoel said after the podium ceremony.
“It’s very disappointing. I don't know if I will get that close again in the coming years on such a difficult course but the most important thing is that I am back. That is very nice. I would have loved to have taken that jersey but oh well, you can't have everything in life.”
Evenepoel was the protected leader of the Belgian team and he had Ben Hermans with him for the final laps in the attack of ten after Victor Campenaerts also played a vital support role.
"It was a very difficult race. The Italians really raced on adrenaline because the crowds were so big,” Evenepoel explained.
“I rode up the last climb very fast but Colbrelli only had one thing to do: survive. I saw that he was having a hard time but he didn't crack. He has a better sprint so he had to bet on that. That's part of the race. It's a shame I don't have a good sprint, but it’ll come.
"I want to thank the team. Everyone rode a strong race, we were the strongest nation. We also rode smart and were there everywhere we needed to be. With two laps from the end we went on the offensive and that attack was strong enough to get rid of riders like Pogacar. I just didn't get away alone, Cosnefroy and Colbrelli came back to me."
Evenepoel will now return to Italy for the World Championships on home roads. He will ride the time trial alongside Wout van Aert next Sunday and promised to ride for his fellow Belgian the week after in the road race.
“I had my chance today and I just didn't take it. We will do our best to get it together on Sunday and the week after that I will empty myself for Van Aert," Evenepoel said.
"I think Wout can now see that I am good. He can trust that I will do everything for him.”
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