Evenepoel wins time trial before withdrawing from Giro d’Italia after positive COVID test

CESENA, Italy (AP) — Pre-race favorite Remco Evenepoel won another time trial to move back into the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday but he later had to withdraw after testing positive for the coronavirus.

In contrast to the opening time trial, Evenepoel won by the slightest of margins on stage nine — the longest of the race’s three individual time trials.

“I am really sorry to be leaving the race,” Evenepoel said. “As part of the team’s protocol, I took a routine test, which unfortunately was positive.”

The rest of the team and staff were tested and were all negative.

The Belgian, who rides for Soudal Quick-Step, beat Geraint Thomas by just one second on the almost entirely flat 35-kilometer (22-mile) route from Savignano Sul Rubicone to Cesena near the Adriatic coast.

That was enough for Evenepoel to win the stage and take back the leader’s pink jersey. The world champion was 45 seconds ahead of Thomas, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers. Primož Roglič, who was considered Evenepoel’s strongest challenger, was two seconds further back.

“I don’t think I paced it very well,” Evenepoel said. “I started too fast and my second part wasn’t that great. I found some better legs in the technical part because I could recover a bit.

“I wasn’t feeling too well in the second part with the head wind. It’s another stage win but it wasn’t my best time trial.”

Thomas moved into the overall lead after Evenepoel withdrew.

Tao Geoghegan Hart was third in the time trial, two seconds slower than Evenepoel. Just eight seconds separated the top five finishers in a strong performance from the general classification contenders.

Monday is the Giro’s first rest day before Tuesday’s 10th stage. There are two categorized climbs in the rolling 196-kilometer route through the Tuscan Apennines from Scandiano to Viareggio on the Mediterranean coast.

The race ends in Rome on May 28.


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