Evenepoel downplayed what the Belgian team called an “incident” in the long road tunnel shortly before the final climb, where he said Bernal and one of his teammates almost hit wheels in front of him, to their disadvantage. mutual.“We both lost positions [in the peloton] together, “Evenepoel said in a video afterwards,” but it’s racing and it happens. ”
When they got out of the tunnel Evenepoel was significantly further back than expected at the start of the 1.5km climb on the dirt road to Campo Felice.
“Because of that I was pretty badly positioned, and although I could come up as much as possible and gained quite a few places, I missed the bonus seconds,” he said.
Fourth at the finish and 10 seconds ahead of Bernal, Evenepoel added: “I didn’t give up a lot of time, which is well before next week. We can be proud of our work and the way the team has performed today. “
After calling the wasted time “next to nothing, because we know the big and big mountains are still to come,” he added: “I also kept my position on GC, which is important for Wednesday. “
The management of Deceuninck-QuickStep also praised Evenepoel’s performance, while admitting that the winner of the Bernal stage was “very strong”.
Evenepoel remains in second place in the Giro, but for the first time since the opening of the time trial in Turin, Bernal is now ahead of the Belgian, having taken the lead on Sunday.
Evenepoel had gained 20 seconds over Bernal in Turin, but since then the Colombian has regained ground with each climb, releasing him as he did on Tuesday in Sestola, or taking a time bonus, as happened Thursday. Then, Sunday, Bernal both edged Evenepoel by 10 seconds and simultaneously, thanks to his first place, grabbed a time bonus of 10 seconds.
“Remco limited the damage and remains second behind a very strong Bernal. All in all, it was a good day, yes ”, insisted the sporting director of Deceuninck-QuickStep Klaas Lodewyck to the Belgian agency. Sporza, adding that Evenepoel had told him he was feeling good.
“You can’t deny that Bernal was riding well. But we are focused on our own performance. “
He added that the passing situation had its strategic advantages as the Ineos Grenadiers now have to control the race given they are in the lead while Deceuninck-QuickStep could save their energy for later.
“I would say, let’s let Remco improve at their own pace, and then we’ll see what happens,” Lodewyck said.
Looking ahead to Wednesday’s hike on similar off-road terrain in Tuscany, Lodewyck argued that the more stable and longer climbs would suit Evenepoel better.
This seems corroborated by the events of Tuesday, when Evenepoel lost 11 seconds to Bernal on the steep and impactful climb of Colle Passerino, while he was able to stay with the Colombian on the more gradual slope of Colle San Giacamo on the stage. 6..
“Every day here we fight hard, we have our knife between our teeth, but over the next two days” – a flat stage and then the first day off – “we have to try to recover for what is to come. ”