Giro d'Italia: Bernal on the brink of glory as Caruso wins penultimate stage

By Sports Desk May 29, 2021

Egan Bernal must hold his nerve in Sunday's closing time trial to win the Giro d'Italia after following Damiano Caruso across the finish line on the penultimate stage.

Colombian Bernal, winner of the 2019 Tour de France, stands on the brink of another famous triumph. The 30.3-kilometre time trial from Senago to the Piazza Duomo is the final frontier in his mission, and Bernal will set out with a lead of one minute and 59 seconds.

Caruso had the glory of a first individual Grand Tour stage win in his career on Saturday, delighting the Italian crowd, and there is every chance he will finish on the general classification podium.

Simon Yates had applied pressure with a stage win on Friday, but the Englishman trails Bernal by three minutes and 23 after crossing the line in sixth place.

Bernal put in a mighty ride on a devilishly mountainous stage, helped along most notably by compatriot and INEOS Grenadiers team-mate Dani Martinez.

Caruso made a bold move with 6.5km remaining, as he and Romain Bardet attacked and left Pello Bilbao trailing, the front pair opening up a lead of over 30 seconds

Martinez pushed hard and Bernal went with him in the maglia rosa group behind the leaders during the taxing climb to the finish.

Bardet fell away from Caruso with two kilometres remaining as the gradient reached 13 per cent, his legs giving up on the prospect of a stage win, allowing Bernal and Martinez to surge past and take second and third place respectively.

Caruso finished 24 seconds clear of Bernal, and a time bonus saw him narrow his gap to the overall leader by 30 seconds overall, tightening his hold on second place in the Giro.

Riding in the rain and mist at times and through snow-covered valleys as the race passed through the Swiss Alps, Saturday's 164-kilometre ride from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta was designed to provide an exacting test for the riders who had put themselves in place to take glory in Milan.

Bernal and Caruso showed they have the steel, but the maglia rosa remains in Colombian hands.

Bernal said on British Eurosport: "I am satisfied with the result. I think we managed well the situation. We have two minutes in advantage for tomorrow's time trial so I think we are in a good position.

"It's not the best to have the [rider ranked] second in the GC [general classification] in front of you, and almost one minute in front of you.

"But I had three team-mates and I tried to use them and finish as fresh as possible in the final climb and also for tomorrow.

"We did well, we managed the situation, but it was difficult."


STAGE RESULT

1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 4:27:53
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:24
3. Dani Martinez (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:35
4. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) +00:35
5. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) +00:41

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 85:41:47
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +01:59
3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +03:23

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 136
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 118
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) 116

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 184
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 140
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 99

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