Remco Evenepoel claimed victory in a rain-affected Giro d’Italia stage nine on Sunday, a 35-km individual time trial, to retake the leader’s pink jersey.
The Belgian finished with a time of 41 minutes and 24 seconds, one second ahead of Geraint Thomas and two seconds clear of Thomas’s team mate Tao Geoghegan Hart.
“I don’t think I paced it very well. 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,” Evenepoel said.
“I wasn’t feeling too well in the second part with the headwind. It’s another stage win but it wasn’t my best time trial. To go to the mountains with the advantage I have now is pretty good, but Ineos for sure will have some plans to attack me.
“But we have a strong team and a lot of confidence. Tomorrow I will have to recover well because my last two stages weren’t my best days. Firstly I want to enjoy this victory.”
Overnight leader Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) relinquished his advantage in the overall standings, where Evenepoel now has a 45-second lead over Thomas, while Primoz Roglic, who finished 17 seconds behind Evenepoel on Sunday, is in third.
Geoghegan Hart and Joao Almeida are fourth and fifth.
“It’s nice to be getting better, but to be so close to the win hurts,” Thomas said. “It’s good to be in it anyway. Myself and Tao, right up there, looks good for the next part of the race.”
Monday is a rest day on the Giro. Tuesday’s stage 10 is a 196-km ride from Scandiano to Viareggio, which features a long climb before a fast‑running and technical descent.