The Belgian cyclist had regained the Maglia Rosa after the ninth stage time trial, but he will have to leave the pink jersey and the peloton after testing positive for Covid-19. Colombian Rigoberto Urán tested positive as well and has withdrawn from the race.
Covid-19 continues to have an impact on our lives, especially the world of sports. Remco Evenepoel, the Giro d’Italia leader after winning the ninth stage, had to pack his belongings and return home. The Belgian, who won both time trials, had emerged as a favourite and will now have to watch the race on TV.
The changes in the protocol
The ‘covid protocol’ present in the cycling world is no longer in effect, so the withdrawal of Evenepoel and others affected by the virus has been agreed upon between the cyclist and the team. Today, cyclists can compete and only withdraw if their symptoms significantly impair their performance and recovery after the effort.
A new Giro
The Giro d’Italia will return on Tuesday following a rest day on Monday. However, it might be argued that it is a completely different Giro than the one that ended with the stage on Sunday. Without Evenepoel, the gap between the leaders is almost zero.
Geraint Thomas will be the Maglia Rosa’s heir. The Welshman, who turns 37 next week, has a historic opportunity to win his first Giro d’Italia. Thomas would be the oldest cyclist to win the Italian race, but he faces stiff opposition.
In second position is Primoz Roglic, who is also facing a golden opportunity. At the end of his sporting career, the Slovenian knows he will have fewer and fewer chances to compete with Evenepoel and Pogacar for absolute victories, so he must be the one to prevail every time they fail. After Evenepoel’s withdrawal, he is the second cyclist in discord, behind Thomas by only two seconds.
Tao Geoghegan, another Ineos Grenadiers cyclist, is third, but only five seconds behind Thomas. The Englishman, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2020, is given the chance to repeat his victory. Three years ago, he did it in the closing 15 kilometres of the stage in Milan, so if the margins remain so narrow, Geoghegan cannot be ruled out for the final victory.
For the time being, the peloton will leave Scandino following a rest day and end in Viareggio, Tuscany, in a stage of about 200 km and 3020 metres of elevation gain.