Remco Evenepoel launched a daring breakaway to claim a dominant victory Saturday on stage four of the Tour of Poland, dedicating his win to stricken teammate Fabio Jakobsen who was injured in a horrifying crash on the race’s opening day.
The 20-year-old Evenepoel burst free of the leading group around 50 kilometres from the finish and take over the race leader’s jersey from reigning Giro d’Italia champion Richard Carapaz.
As he crossed the finish line at Bukowina Tarzanska he held up Jakobsen’s “75” bib number.
“I wanted to give everything today for Fabio. After stage 1, we all had some pretty tough moments, but stayed together and I think the whole world saw today just how strong this team is,” said the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider.
Jakobsen awoke from a medically-induced coma Thursday following his crash in the opening stage. Doctors have since said he will be able to return home soon.
“The good news we received yesterday about Fabio acted as a big morale-boost and for that reason I wanted to do something today,” added Evenepoel.
“That’s why in the morning, before the start, I asked for his race number and the moment I had it in my hands I immediately felt something special.
“It wasn’t easy and I suffered, but it doesn’t compare to what Fabio’s enduring these days. This gave me the energy to carry on and never look back.”
Several riders took a tumble midway through Saturday’s 152.9km stage, including Carapaz of Team Ineos.
The Ecuadorian got back in the saddle but finished the day over three minutes behind.
Evenepoel, last week’s Tour of Burgos winner, crossed the finish 1min 4sec clear of Jakob Fuglsang with Simon Yates and Rafal Majka another 34sec back of the young Belgian.
He heads into Sunday’s concluding stage, a 188km route from Zakopane to Krakow, 1min 52sec ahead of Denmark’s Fuglsang.
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