The 23-year-old rider may have missed out on the stage win to Aurelien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen) in a thrilling finish, but he became the first Norwegian in 42 years to claim the Giro’s famous pink jersey.
As he reached the finish and crouched down on the ground, he was embraced by members of his team and the man from Tromso could no longer contain his emotions after what has been a tough time for him away from cycling.
“Leknessund not managing that [a stage victory] yet, but he is the maglia rosa, the new leader,” Hatch said on commentary for Eurosport.
“What a day for the young Norwegian! Ah, the emotion there for Leknessund. I can tell you that it has been a really hard few weeks off the bike for this young man.
“The emotion pouring out. The loss of somebody very dear to him. It was touch and go if he was to come to the Giro. He did come and he has performed.
“It might not have been the stage, but he has to be happy with how he has ridden today. Off you go to the podium, young man, because that is quite the performance.”
‘That’s super special!’ – Leknessund reacts to grabbing GC lead after Stage 4
Speaking to Eurosport immediately after the day’s racing, Leknessund was left stunned by what he had achieved.
“It’s official?” he asked about being the new leader of the race before getting confirmation.
“That is super special! I went for the stage and I also knew that the pink was possible. I had one attack where I went all-in, but my legs were hurting so much.
“It is super special to be in the pink and that was the goal before the stage. As everyone knows, it is hard! Cycling is not so easy and to actually make it is unbelievable.”
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