Remco Evenepoel: Third Cyclist to Leave the Giro d’Italia as the Leader

Belgian cyclist Remco Evenepoel of the Soudal-Quick Step team had to withdraw from the Giro d'Italia after the individual time trial on May 14. We tell you the reason for his abandonment in the competition and the complex situation that the Giro is experiencing .

Remco Evenepoel with the Maglia Rossa

Photo: TW-EvenepoelRemco

LatinAmerican Post | Camilo Parra

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Leer en español: Remco Evenepoel: tercer ciclista que deja el Giro de Italia siendo líder

The 2023 edition of the Giro d'Italia left a fact that had not happened since the last century; the leader of the general classification has left the Maglia Rossa and the competition for matters unrelated to the bicycle.

In the history of what is considered as one of the three great tours of cycling, there have been three cyclists who had to leave the Giro d'Italia while being the leaders of the general classification. The first case was known in 1969, when Eddy Merckx had to leave the Maglia Rossa in full competition. Furthermore, said edition was not so fortunate; the cyclist Giancarlo Manzi died due to an accident at the arrival of Terracina and stage 21 was canceled due to weather.

Eddy Merckx (1969)

The Giro d'Italia was in its 52nd edition, in which the main attraction was the fight between Felice Gimondi and Eddy Merckx to obtain the Maglia Rossa. From stage 3 the Belgian cyclist made a difference over his rival after winning the sprint and the time trial the following day, where perhaps there were not many differences.

However, in the second time trial, which was 49 kilometers, and in stage number 15, Merckx got an advantage of one minute over Gimondi and more than three over the rest of his rivals. For this reason, he was close to obtaining the title for the second time in a row. However, that dream was going to end the next day when it was announced that the 'Canibal', as he was nicknamed, tested positive for anti-doping and had to be expelled from the competition.

The Belgian, in addition to being eliminated from the race, received a one-month ban, although he was able to go to the Tour de France that year. Likewise, Merckx always defended his innocence and even accused that the fact was presented by a mafia action against him.

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Marco Pantani (1999)

There were two stages left for Marco Pantani to be crowned the winner of the 82nd edition of the Giro d'Italia, after winning four stages, when something surprising happened. In Madonna di Campiglio, where the penultimate stage was held, the Italian was disqualified from the competition after failing an anti-doping control.

The organization pointed out that Pantani had a hematocrit rate above 50%, which was not allowed at that time. It should be remembered that the above is a test that measures how much blood is made up of red blood cells. After this fact, the winner of the Maglia Rossa was his compatriot Ivan Gotti.

In March 2016, an Italian court overturned Pantani's expulsion from the 1999 Giro d'Italia after discovering that the mafia bribed competing medical services in order to profit from sports betting. However, the victory was not delivered to him because he did not complete the last stages.

Remco Evenepoel (2023)

After winning the ninth stage of the Giro in an individual time trial and winning the Maglia Rosa with a second ahead of Geraint Thomas in the general classification, the Belgian tested positive for COVID-19. Consequently, he had to abandon a race in which the pundits considered him the top favorite. Evenepoel is the first cyclist who has to leave the Giro as leader due to illness, since the previous cases mentioned were due to doping-related issues.

Filippo Ganna and Rigoberto Urán are the other runners who had to leave due to the spread of this virus. Due to this, the organizers of the race announced the reinforcement of sanitary measures. Last Monday it was announced that, in the finish area, the podium, the mixed zone and the parking area of the buses corresponding to the teams, the use of face masks is mandatory.

With this measure, it is expected that there will be no more infections among cyclists, and they should not abandon the race that is already in the second week. Currently, Geraint Thomas leads, followed by Primož Roglič.

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