At the start of the 106th Giro d'Italia, cycling star Remco Evenepoel gladly exchanged the world champion jersey for the Maglia Rosa.
"It's a nice change. I want to enjoy every moment of it. It's always something special to wear a jersey like that on a Grand Tour and be recognized by the fans," said the exceptional 23-year-old rider after he finished the time trial won in impressive style on Saturday.
The Belgian, who is often compared to the legend Eddy Merckx in his homeland, dealt a serious blow to the competition for Primoz Roglic right at the start. Roglic, after all a three-time Vuelta winner, was 43 seconds down on the first 19.6 of 3489.2 kilometers. Even the two-time time trial world champion Filippo Ganna from Italy was distanced by 22 seconds. "The first mission is accomplished. The pink jersey wasn't the main goal today, but it's a nice bonus. It's always good to start with a head start," added the youngster.
Who is supposed to stop Evenepoel in the form anyway? Only two weeks ago he had shown his extra class with his superior triumph in the difficult classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Now followed the return to the Giro, where two years ago he had soberly abandoned his first attempt after 17 stages.
Evenepoel has long since become a world-class driver. He already won the Vuelta last year, now the Giro should follow. And next year the attack on the tour throne is on the agenda. That's the plan.