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Evenepoel keeps cool ahead of Giro debut

20-year-old hotshot hopes to light up Giro d'Italia, feels no pressure at prospect of team leadership.

Cycling’s latest superstar Remco Evenepoel has high expectations ahead of his Giro d’Italia debut in October.

“I am keen on it,” Evenepoel replied when asked if he was aiming for overall victory at the race this October. “My preparation is all about the Giro. So hopefully I will be spared from bad luck and I can answer in the affirmative at the end of October.”

Speaking on Instagram Live, the Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider was quick to deflect the idea that leading his team at the race would add undue pressure.

“It’s mainly healthy stress,” he said. “Stress rather gives me motivation or adrenaline … stress has no negative effects on me. In a time trial you have to be able to deal with tension all day long. That is actually one of my strongest points.”

Evenepoel secured second place at last year’s world championships, and his prowess against the clock could see him net the race’s pink jersey on the very first stage. Though yet to be confirmed, it is likely that the race will kick off with a time trial in Sicilian capital Palermo after organizers RCS Sport abandoned the initially-planned Budapest Grande Partenza. 

The inclusion of Evenepoel on the start sheet alongside triple world champion Peter Sagan and home hero Vincenzo Nibali will provide sparkle to a Giro that has been overshadowed by its proximity to the Tour and clash with the northern classics. The packed 2020 schedule is likely to see stage racers looking toward the Tour and Vuelta a España for their three-week competitions, and the one-day specialists will likewise forgo a ride in Italy to focus on their classics goals.

Sagan will be going to the race looking to capture stage successes. His decision earlier this month to race the Giro at the sacrifice of the cobbled classics came as a shock for some. However, Sagan was keen to remain true to assurances given to organizers RCS Sport before coronavirus caused the race to be delayed.

“We already did the presentation of the Giro and we shook hands with RCS, and we give our word with [team manager] Ralph Denk and me to RCS that we are going to do the Giro,” Sagan said last week. “We want to keep it like that. I am going to start there.”

RCS Sport has been quick to act on harnessing the unique character and charm of Sagan for its marketing, with the Slovakian appearing in a typically quirky promotional video released last week.