- - Remco Evenepoel Forced to Abandon Giro d'Italia Due to COVID-19 Positive Test

Remco Evenepoel Forced to Abandon Giro d’Italia Due to COVID-19 Positive Test

Remco Evenepoel’s hopes of winning this year’s Giro d’Italia are over after he was ruled out of the race following a positive Covid-19 test.

The Soudal-Quick Step rider led the general classification by 45 seconds after winning the individual time trial in Sunday’s stage 9.

But just hours after the result it has been confirmed by his team that he will not continue at the race.

“The Belgian was forced to say goodbye to the first Grand Tour of the season after a routine test taken ahead of the first rest day came back positive to Covid-19,” said Soudal-Quick Step in a statement.

Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas will take over the leader’s jersey and will hold a two-second advantage over Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic. Ineos’ Tao Geoghegan Hart is five seconds behind Thomas.

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

“My experience here has been really special and I was looking forward to competing over the next two weeks.

“I can’t thank enough the staff and the riders who sacrificed so much in preparation for the Giro. I will be cheering them on over the next two weeks.”

Evenepoel was looking to follow up his 2022 Vuelta a Espana win with a second successive Grand Tour victory.

He won two stages at the Giro – both individual time trials on Stage 1 and Stage 9 – and wore the pink leader’s jersey until Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) took it after Stage 4.

His withdrawal looks to have left Thomas, Roglic and Geoghegan Hart as the favorites to win the race.

Speaking after winning Stage 9, Evenepoel indicated that he was not feeling his best during the time trial.

“I think I didn’t pace it very well, I started way too fast and my second part was a really bad part,” he said.

“Then after the technical section, I found some better legs because I could recover but I think my first part was very good and it was the pacing plan we tried to get but in the second part with the headwind I wasn’t feeling too well, so not the best result but it’s another stage win so that’s very nice, but it was not my best time trial I ever did.

“We should be happy we took the stage win and we have the pink jersey but it was a very tight one.”

Evenepoel also said he was hoping to use the first rest day to “recover well”.

The 23-year-old follows Ineos Grenadiers’ Filippo Ganna in withdrawing from the race due to Covid-19.

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