In a dramatic turn during the Il Lombardia race, Belgian Champion, Remco Evenepoel of Soudal-QuickStep, endured an early crash only 217km from the finish in Bergamo. Despite bloodied knees and elbows, he was resolute in continuing the race.
The incident took place approximately thirty minutes into the race, involving other cyclists such as Sjoerd Bax from UAE Team Emirates and Giovanni Aleotti of Bora-Hansgrohe. While TV coverage missed the action, a spectator's video showed Evenepoel and Bax colliding as the road curved, resulting in both, along with a few riders behind them, crashing.
Thankfully, after treatment, Aleotti and Evenepoel rejoined the peloton. Bax, however, had to pull out from the race. Evenepoel was among the top contenders, especially given his history with the same race where a 2020 accident led to a pelvis fracture. A win today would have been an impeccable redemption and a third Monument victory to close an already impressive season.
Evenepoel Undeterred by Merger Rumors
Amid rumors of a merger between Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-QuickStep, recent Belgian reports have denied such plans. This would mean Evenepoel will not be joining any ‘mega-team’. However, the champion cyclist was undeterred by such speculations. “My focus is clear on Il Lombardia, and rumors haven't been a distraction,” stated Evenepoel, emphasizing his impeccable preparation for the race.
His pre-race morning was calm, spent sharing moments with fellow cyclists like Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ. In terms of strategy, Evenepoel acknowledged that his team had multiple strong players, referencing recent victories by teammates Ilan Van Wilder and Andrea Bagioli.
As the race continued, all eyes were on other frontrunners like Tadej Pogačar from UAE Team Emirates and Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma. Evenepoel remarked about his readiness and the strength of his team, “We start as a team that is in very good shape.” With such determination, fans and fellow cyclists alike eagerly await the outcome of this intense race.