Two-time Grand Tour winner Egan Bernal will make his return to racing on Tuesday after seven months out of action following a serious training crash.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was training near his home city of Bogota in January when he struck a parked bus while riding at high speed.

The collision left Bernal requiring surgery on his spine, while he also suffered two collapsed lungs, fractures in his right leg and kneecap, a broken thumb and a lost tooth.

Bernal spent several days in intensive care and later said the crash nearly killed him, while he believed there was a 95 per cent likelihood "of becoming a paraplegic".

In February, he had a second operation on his spine before eventually returning to the bike a month later.

Now, his team confirmed he will make his comeback to racing in the Tour of Denmark – which begins on Tuesday – after this final step of his rehabilitation was approved by medical staff.

Bernal said: "After what happened to me in January this has been the moment I've been waiting for – to race with my team-mates again.

"I can't emphasise enough how hard the last eight months have been for me, both physically and mentally. That day, and the journey that I have been on since will be a part of me forever, it's something you never forget, as is the support that I have received from my family, my girlfriend, the team, INEOS as well as my fans.

"As humans we really rely on each other in our times of need, and this year has been a time of need for me – I can't thank everyone who has been there for me enough.

"That support has been invaluable in motivating me every day to work hard to be able to race again. To you all, a heartfelt thank you."

Deputy team principal, Rod Ellingworth, added: "When you think back to where Egan was only eight months ago, it's incredible the progress he has made.

"He's shown the world the true strength of his character, and demonstrated remarkable grit in returning to race-readiness. We're still on a journey with Egan, but lining up at the Tour of Denmark is a significant and hard-earned milestone.

"Egan's long-term recovery has and continues to guide our medical and physical programme of support – our targets have always been performance-led not race-led, and the entire INEOS Grenadiers family is proud and delighted for Egan that his determination and application will now see him return to the race environment he has craved for so long."

The first Grand Tour of 2022 starts on Friday, with the Giro d'Italia getting underway in Hungary.

Any chances of Egan Bernal being in line to defend his title were dashed in January, when the Colombian suffered serious injuries in a training ride in his homeland.

Fortunately, Bernal has recovered and is training again in Europe with his INEOS Grenadiers team-mates, but he will not be vying for a second successive maglia rosa.

Likewise, Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar is skipping the Giro to focus his efforts on a third straight yellow jersey. His fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic, too, will not be present for the 3,445.6km race that begins in Budapest and takes in a trip around Sicily before snaking its way around the Italian mainland, finishing with a time trial in Verona.

But the lack of standout favourites could well result in a more open race. Though not a general classification contender, Mark Cavendish is making his long-awaited Giro return, while Vincenzo Nibali will visit his hometown on what seems set to be his final appearance at this particular Grand Tour.

 

Stats Perform looks at the key storylines heading into the Giro d'Italia.

Picks of the bunch

This year's route features only 26.3km of time trialling – the lowest amount in a Giro since 1963, when there were no time trials. Instead, there is close to 51km of climbing, with much of that reserved for the gruelling final stages.

It is no surprise, then, that reigning world time trial champion Filippo Ganna, who has won six stages across the last two Giro and claimed gold in the team pursuit for Italy at the Tokyo Olympics, is not involved for INEOS this time around.

 

Leading the Grenadiers will be Richard Carapraz, the 2019 victor who will have support from Pavel Sivakov, a particularly strong climber.

For Alpecin-Felix, Mathieu van der Poel will hope to build on his impressive GT debut from last year's Tour de France and collect some points in the early stages, while Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) will want another shot at Giro glory.

Yates had top drop out in 2020 after testing positive for coronavirus but won two stages to finish third in 2021. Indeed, that makes him the best performer from last year's GC to feature this time around, with Damiano Caruso, who took second, also sitting out.

Tom Dumoulin won in 2017 and is back after a hiatus, while 42-year-old Movistar rider Alejandro Valverde is set for his final Giro appearance, with the Spaniard set to retire at the end of the season.

Mikel Landa took the maglia azzurra in 2017 and he leads a Bahrain-Victorious team that includes Wout Poels, who held the king of the mountains jersey for four stages of Le Tour last year.

Cav is back

After his sensational efforts in last year's Tour de France, when he matched Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins, Cavendish will return to the Giro after a nine-year absence after he was confirmed to be heading up the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team.

Cavendish last featured in the race in 2013, topping the points classification after winning five stages.

His participation here does cast doubt over whether he will compete in Le Tour and get the chance to set the stage-win record in that race, especially as he turns 37 later this month (he'll celebrate his birthday with a 153km mountain stage from Santena to Torino on May 21).

However, regardless of whether he gets another shot at Tour de France history in July, Cavendish will be out to add to his 15 Giro stage wins. 

 

Nibali's long goodbye

The Giro passes through Messina on May 11, marking a return to his hometown for Nibali, the two-time champion who looks set to be making his final appearance in the race.

Nibali has won four Grand Tours and while the 37-year-old is unlikely to make any GC inroads (his last success was in 2016), it will be a glorious opportunity for him to bid farewell.

He was in tears after winning last year's Giro di Sicilia – how fitting would it be if he were to win an eighth Giro stage of his career back in the town where he grew up.

Nibali was the last Italian rider to win the Giro, and Italy's hopes rest on Trek-Segafredo's Giulio Ciccone, who crashed out in 2021.

Egan Bernal says he is "happy to be alive" and is "starting to feel like a cyclist again" as he steps up his recovery from a horror crash.

The 25-year-old required multiple surgeries after sustaining a fractured vertebra, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung, and several fractured ribs when he collided with a parked bus at high speed on a training ride in Colombia.

Bernal, who won the won the 2019 Tour de France and the 2021 Giro d'Italia, was originally told by doctors that there was a "95 per cent chance" of him being left paralysed by the crash.

Just days after being pictured on the road for the first time in two months, an emotional Bernal opened up on his recovery.

"I actually received an important lesson from this accident, so absurdly I'm actually thankful for having lived through this experience," Bernal said, speaking at a 'Ride With Egan' event held on the virtual cycling platform Zwift.

"I'm happy to be alive and little by little I'm starting to feel like a cyclist again. 

"I want to say thanks to all the people who wrote to me and sent me positive energy, they really helped me. 

"Having the energy and support of an entire country, of so many people in cycling from around the world and especially of my loved ones, has allowed me to move forward and contradict the first terrible diagnoses of the doctors."

Bernal explained the accident had allowed him to view life in a different way, acknowledging his aim of being "the best rider in the world" had faded into irrelevance when he was faced with the life-threatening consequences of the collision.

"The accident allowed me to see things from a different perspective," Bernal added. "Before, I was only focused on cycling and being the best rider in the world. But the real priority in life is to feel good and be able to be with those who love us.

"When you are attached to a ventilator you feel fragile and vulnerable, only then do you really value what you previously underestimated or took for granted.

"Now, I send my strength to those who are suffering. We must have patience and give the right consideration to what happens to us in life. 

"Being forced to miss races can be traumatic, but it is more important to still be in this world, surrounded by the affection of family and friends. Sometimes we forget what really matters."

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was, however, reluctant to set a date for his competitive return.

"I don't know what the recovery time will be. I don't want to rush or set a date for my return, it wouldn't be ideal given everything that has happened," he added.

"Clearly I hope to recover as soon as possible, but I have to listen to my body. Before thinking about getting back to winning, I have to get back to full health and finish a race. That would already be an important success.

"I hope I'm not afraid to do what I love.

"I don't know if when I go back to going fast I'll be scared or not. For now, I've only done a few rides. Fear was certainly not the first sensation I felt when I got back in the saddle. Instead, it was pure happiness."

Egan Bernal has returned to the road for the first time since his horrific crash in January.

The 25-year-old, who won the 2019 Tour de France and the 2021 Giro d'Italia, was treated in intensive care after hitting a parked bus at high speed while on a training ride in Colombia in January.

Bernal required multiple surgeries after sustaining a fractured vertebra, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs.

The Colombian revealed in a social media post later that month that there was a "95 per cent chance" of him being paralysed or killed during the incident, but has now been pictured on the road in a tweet from the official INEOS Grenadiers account.

"The best Monday motivation we could ever hope for, Egan Bernal is back on the bike," INEOS tweeted.

"The happiest day of my life," he wrote on Twitter.

"After 2 months and 20 broken bones, here I am, and I want more! See you on the road!"

Former cyclist Chris Hoy, one of Great Britain's most successful Olympians, told Stats Perform earlier this month that he expects Bernal to recover, though knows it will be a long way back.

"I guess it's always hard to tell just how bad an injury or how bad mentally a big crash can affect athletes and with social media, you're always trying to portray the best possible side and the positive side all the time," said Hoy.

"But there is no doubt that no matter how well he's doing now, it will have been a huge struggle to get past the physical injuries and the psychological scars as well from such a horrible accident.

"He is a fierce competitor, all the other team-mates who know him say that if anyone can, he can, and I think the cycling community is hoping that he will get back to his very best and be able to compete on the biggest stage. But, you know, it's not a small challenge that he's facing, but we'll have to wait and see."

Chris Hoy believes "fierce competitor" Egan Bernal can return to full strength despite the injuries he suffered in a horror crash earlier this year.

Bernal, who won the Tour de France in 2019 and the Giro d'Italia in 2021, was treated in intensive care following the accident in Colombia in January.

The 25-year-old underwent multiple operations after sustaining a fractured vertebra, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs.

Bernal subsequently revealed in a social media post that there was a "95 per cent chance" of him being paralysed or losing his life.

However, after leaving hospital, Bernal is now on the road to recovery and this month shared a photo of him training on a static bike at home.

Hoy, speaking to Stats Perform to mark 500 days until the start of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, said he is hoping Bernal will be back competing at the highest level after a long road to recovery.

"I guess it's always hard to tell just how bad an injury or how bad mentally a big crash can affect athletes and with social media, you're always trying to portray the best possible side and the positive side all the time," said Hoy, who is one of Great Britain's most successful Olympians with six gold medals.

"But there is no doubt that no matter how well he's doing now, it will have been a huge struggle to get past the physical injuries and the psychological scars as well from such a horrible accident.

"He is a fierce competitor, all the other team-mates who know him say that if anyone can, he can, and I think the cycling community is hoping that he will get back to his very best and be able to compete on the biggest stage. But, you know, it's not a small challenge that he's facing, but we'll have to wait and see."

Four-time Tour de France winner and Bernal's former INEOS Grenadiers team-mate Chris Froome also suffered a horrendous crash in 2019, which put him out of action for almost a year.

Froome was 34 when that accident occurred, and Hoy says Bernal at least has age on his side.

"I think Bernal’s age will help, that the chances on getting back and competing at the highest level, are definitely improved by the fact that he is still relatively young," Hoy said.

"But until you get back into that real cauldron of competition you just don't know what it's going to be like and I guess the longer you're away from competing, the more that fire burns and the more you want to get back and taste that victory again."

Egan Bernal has come through a second spinal operation after the crash he believes almost killed him, and the former Tour de France winner declared on Thursday: "Let's rock."

With a long way to go before he gets on a bike again, Bernal managed to sound an optimistic note from his hospital bed.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was involved in a crash while training close to his hometown of Bogota in Colombia last week.

Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France champion and victor of the 2021 Giro d'Italia, struck a parked bus at high speed while riding his time trial bike.

He underwent surgery soon after the collision, and a further operation on his spine was required on Wednesday.

Bernal, who said this was proving to be his "toughest race", said it would be the last major operation he faces.

The hospital treating Bernal – the Clinica Universidad de la Sabana – said: "The objectives of biomechanical stability of the cervical spine were achieved with excellent clinical results, without presenting complications during surgery."

Bernal catalogued his list of injuries in an Instagram post on Thursday, before setting his sights on a return to the saddle.

He wrote: "Nearly 20 broken bones. 11 ribs. Femur. Ball joint. T5-T6. Odontoids. Metacarpal. A thumb. I lost a tooth. Perforation of both lungs.

"I almost killed myself, but you know what? I am grateful to God for putting me through this test. It is being the toughest race, but I have had a group of excellent people around me.

"Yesterday I had my last major surgery and everything seems to have gone well. So now to recover and make this another... I'M BACK!! And let's rock."

Egan Bernal says he almost died as a result of the injuries he suffered following a horror crash in training this week.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was involved in a crash while training close to his hometown of Bogota in Colombia on Monday.

Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France champion and victor of the 2021 Giro d'Italia, struck a parked bus at high speed while riding his time trial bike.

Posting on Instagram, Bernal wrote: "Having had a 95 per cent chance of becoming a paraplegic and nearly losing my life doing what I love to do most, today I want to thank God, the Clinica Universidad de La Sabana, all the specialists for doing the impossible, my family, friends and all of you for your wishes. 

"I'm still in the ICU waiting for more surgeries but trusting in God everything will be fine."

Bernal underwent two operations following the incident, with the hospital confirming the surgeries were a success.

An INEOS statement later clarified the extent of the Colombian's injuries.

"Egan suffered a fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs in the crash. Doctors were able to medically pin his right leg and stabilise the vertebrae fracture in two separate surgeries," the statement read.

A hospital statement, reported by BBC Sport, read: "Egan Bernal Gomez has continued with the expected recovery and with a favourable trend.

"Egan continues with his rehabilitation plan, he has not shown signs of infection, he is also in good spirits.

"Tomorrow he will have two surgeries, which are secondary procedures that are not life-threatening."

INEOS Grenadiers have released an update on Egan Bernal, revealing the full extent of his injuries.

Bernal, the winner of the 2019 Tour de France and last year's Giro d'Italia, was involved in a crash while training close to his hometown of Bogota in Colombia on Monday.

According to local media reports, the 25-year-old struck a parked bus while riding at a high speed.

Bernal underwent two operations at the Clinica Universidad de La Sabana. On Tuesday, the hospital confirmed that the surgeries had been a success, but the rider remained in intensive care.

INEOS subsequently released a further update on the Colombian.

"Following yesterday's training accident, Egan remains in a stable condition in intensive care after two successful surgeries," the statement read.

"Egan suffered a fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs in the crash. Doctors were able to medically pin his right leg and stabilise the vertebrae fracture in two separate surgeries.

"He is now in an intensive care unit where other potential secondary injuries are being managed, as well as his body's response to the trauma.

"The team would like to thank the medical staff at Clinica Universidad de La Sabana and everyone who has sent messages of support to Egan. All of our focus is on ensuring Egan is given the best possible care as he starts his road to recovery."

Among those sending support to Bernal was former team-mate Chris Froome, who himself has had to overcome serious injuries to return to cycling.

Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner, suffered a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow, and fractured ribs, after a high-speed crash into a wall while training in 2019.

"My thoughts are with Egan and his family today," Froome wrote on Twitter.

Primoz Roglic will start his quest for a hat-trick of Vuelta a Espana titles when the final Grand Tour race of the year starts in Burgos on Saturday.

Team Jumbo-Visma rider Roglic has won the Vuelta in each of the peast two years and is favourite to continue his dominance of the race.

Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal will be expected to mount a strong challenge after skipping the Tour de France, while the Colombian's INEOS Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates could have a big say.

This 76th edition of the race will have eight mountain top finishes, with 11 stages featuring mountains, including the Picon Blanco with a gradient in some sections of the climb at 17 per cent.

Stats Perform picks out the big stories and standout Opta facts ahead of a race that will finish in Santiago de Compostela on September 5.
 

OLYMPIC CHAMPION ROGLIC TARGETING RARE TREBLE

Roglic put his Tour de France woes behind him to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics last month, claiming Slovenia's first gold medal in any cycling discipline.

The 31-year-old abandoned the Tour after a brutal first week but should start the Vuelta on a high from his heroics in Japan.

Roglic will be bidding to move level with Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador on three Vuelta triumphs if he wins the red jersey – one shy of Roberto Heras' record.

He would also become the first rider to win the race three times in a row since Spaniard Heras in 2005.

 


BERNAL LEADS INEOS CHALLENGE

Bernal claimed his maiden Giro title this year after winning his first Grand Tour crown in the 2019 Tour.

The 24-year-old sat out the 2021 Tour and has been training at altitude in his homeland ahead of a bid to complete a clean sweep of Grand Tour titles.

Bernal could become only the third Colombian to win the race, with Nairo Quintana being the last in 2016.

INEOS have a strong hand as Carapaz and Yates plot a title challenge.
 

LANDA HOPEFUL OF ENDING SPANISH DROUGHT

No Spanish rider has triumphed in the previous six editions of the race on home soil. If that extends to seven, it will be an unwanted record drought.

But Mikel Landa is hopeful of topping the podium after winning the Vuelta de Burgos following his recovery from a broken collarbone and several broken ribs suffered in a Giro crash.

He told the Deia: "Winning the Vuelta de Burgos was unexpected, but it was a great morale boost after so long out injured.

"Now I am going to the Vuelta with optimism. At the end of the day, I haven't competed much this year and I have the bit between my teeth after the Giro. I know I have to be careful, because I am still lacking a bit of form, but I am very motivated."

Egan Bernal hopes to complete a Grand Tour clean sweep at the Vuelta a Espana after winning the Giro d'Italia.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider sealed a first Giro title in Milan on Sunday, winning by a margin of a minute and 29 seconds.

Bernal will not go in search of a second Tour de France crown this year, but is eyeing a maiden Vuelta success in a race that will start on August 14.

The Colombian told Semana TV: "Yes, the Vuelta. Right now, I don't want to think about one month training and being away from home, but I like to race, and I like to prepare, to do things well, so I know I will have the motivation to go to the Vuelta and do it well.

"We're looking at the Vuelta. I can't just sit at home and do nothing."

Bernal said he has matured since winning the Tour two years ago.

"I've lived a lot of things, not just in sport but at the personal level as well," he added.

"Things are changing, and I am more mature. I won the Tour at 22, and that's not easy. I obviously had a lot to learn, and I still do. I've changed a lot since I was 22, and the Egan at 22 is very different than the Egan of today.

"I don't think I could have won this Giro if I had faced the same situation at 22. I'm only 24 now, so I am not that old, but a lot of things have happened since then, and it helped me to win this Giro. I was surrounded by good people with a lot of experience."

Egan Bernal wrapped up victory in the Giro d'Italia on Sunday, showing consummate composure in the final stage on the road to Milan.

INEOS Grenadiers rider Bernal, who had finished second behind Damiano Caruso in the penultimate stage, was a favourite heading into this year's race and the 24-year-old duly delivered having worn the maglia rosa since stage nine.

He sealed an impressive general classification victory by one minute and 29 seconds.

Bernal, now a two-time Grand Tour champion after a successful Tour de France in 2019, needed to keep his cool in Sunday's closing time trial.

He began the 30.3-kilometre test from Senago with a 1:59 minute lead over Caruso, who celebrated his maiden Grand Tour stage win on Saturday, but Bernal only gave up 30 seconds in a closing stage that was won by his team-mate and reigning time trial world champion Filippo Ganna.

Ganna beat Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) by 12 seconds, despite needing to change his bike mid-race.

Cavagna was hindered by a crash on the final bend, with the Frenchman losing control and flying over his handlebars, and despite being back on the bike within 10 seconds, it was a mistake which handed Ganna a second stage win of the Giro.

But the glory was all Bernal's, the Colombian able to take his time on the final stretch as he celebrated a supreme display over the three-week event.

It is INEOS' second successive victory at the Giro, following Tao Geoghegan Hart's triumph last year.

Simon Yates, another pre-race favourite, finished in third place in the general classification, 4:15 back from Bernal, who is going from strength to strength.

"The maglia rosa is special. It's the most beautiful race in the world's most beautiful place," Bernal told reporters.

"I'll never forget this Giro, how I won my first ever stage and the way I won it, with attacks and sprinting on the flat for bonus seconds against Remco Evenepoel. That's who I am and the cycling I like.

"In this race I found the freedom to race as I like to do. So winning in this final time trial is special.

"I was just focused on my effort and was just thinking I can't do a mistake, I didn't want to lose the Giro in one corner. I was starting to push in the parts where I could push, but in the corners, don't take any risks.

"It was special, [seeing] a lot of Colombian flags everywhere and all the people cheering for me. When I finished and realised I won, it was an incredible feeling. I can't describe what I'm feeling."

STAGE RESULT

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:33:48
2. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +00:12
3. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
4. Matteo Sobrero (Astana) +00:14
5. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +00:27

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 86:17:28
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +01:29
3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +04:15

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) 184
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 140
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 99

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

Simon Yates went solo to win stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia but Egan Bernal increased his overall lead with two days to go.

Yates showed he is still very much up for the fight in the battle for the maglia rosa on Friday, climbing to victory in Alpe di Mera.

Englishman Yates went on his own six-and-a-half kilometres from the end of the lung-busting 166 km ride from Abbiategrasso and had more than enough in the legs to pull away.

The Team BikeExchange rider moved two minutes and 49 seconds adrift of Bernal, who crossed the line in third place behind Joao Almeida.

Bernal edged his advantage over second-placed Damiano Caruso in the general classification up to two minutes and 29 seconds, but Yates made another statement ahead of a brutal penultimate stage in the mountains on Saturday.

The Colombian initially reacted well when Yates surged away on a steep final ascent to the finish, but was then clearly suffering.

A fourth Giro stage win for Yates, adding to the three he won in 2018, leaves the race nicely poised ahead of such a tough stage 20 at high altitude and a time trial to finish on Sunday.

INEOS Grenadiers rider Bernal was left to fend for himself with 2.4km to go as Daniel Martinez was unable to stay with him and had to dig in two days after Yates also made time on him in the mountains.

Yates said: "I'm really happy. The team did a great job right from the start of the stage, a fantastic team effort and I'm happy to have finished it off.

"I really wanted to win a stage in this Giro, I'm not sure where I am now in the general classification but I'm really happy about this win."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) 4:02:55
2. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) +00:11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:04
4. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious)
5. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana–Premier Tech)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 77:10:18
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +02:29
3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +02:49

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 113
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) 110

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 180
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 121
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 83

Alberto Bettiol chased down Remi Cavagna on the final climb to claim victory on stage 18 ​of the Giro d'Italia on a day that saw Egan Bernal retain his lead.

EF Education-Nippo rider Bettiol was part of a 23-strong breakaway when starting his pursuit with 15 kilometres remaining and caught Cavagna with six to go on the longest stage of the race.

The 2019 Tour of Flanders winner went solo from that point on to earn his maiden win on home soil and his team's first stage triumph at this year's race, while Cavagna slipped down to ninth.

"I really wanted a victory like this," Bettiol said. "I had already come close on a couple of occasions. 

"This morning Hugh [Carthy] gave me the green light to go on the attack. I want to thank him and the whole team. I didn't want to miss this opportunity."

Bettiol finished 17 seconds ahead of a congested pack, with Simone Consonni second after pipping Nicolas Roche on the line in Thursday's 231km journey from Rovereto to Stradella.

The peloton were around 23 minutes further back as Bernal enjoyed a stress-free day on the mostly-flat surface to hold on to the maglia rosa, having finally showed signs of weakness on Wednesday.

He will head into the three remaining stages with a two minute and 21 seconds lead over Damiano Caruso, while Simon Yates is three minutes and 23 seconds behind.

Friday's 166km stage 19, which has been rerouted following a tragic cable car crash earlier this week, takes the riders from Abbiategrasso to Alpe di Mera and gives Caruso and Yates another chance to chase down the race leader.

"I hope I've recovered well. I felt much better on the bike than yesterday and I hope tomorrow will be another good day," Bernal said.

"It's difficult to say I'm super confident – I'm just trying to do my best.  I have a lot of respect for the other guys and I need to be focused and do my best, that's it."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo) 5:14:43
2. Simone Consonni (Cofidis) +00:17
3. Nicolas Roche (Team DSM) +00:18
4. Nikias Arndt (Team DSM) +00:18
5. Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) +00:18

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 77:10:18
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +02:21
3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +03:23

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 113
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) 110

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 180
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 109
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 79

Dan Martin went solo to claim a maiden Giro d'Italia stage victory and leader Egan Bernal finally showed signs of weakness on a brutal final climb.

Martin moved away on his own just over 10 kilometres from the end of the gruelling 193km stage 17 from Canazei to Sega di Ala and there was no catching the Irishman.

The Israel Start-Up Nation rider was the only member of a breakaway group, which had included eight men at one point, who was not reeled in.

Martin's victory completed a Grand Tour clean sweep, with two Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana successes already to his name.

He finished 13 seconds ahead of Joao Almeida and crossed the finishing line 30 seconds before Simon Yates, who showed he is still very much up for the fight in the battle for the maglia rosa.

Bernal had won stage 16 in impressive fashion on Monday, but looked in trouble on steep sections on a long final ascent in the maglia rosa.

The INEOS Grenadiers had to grit his teeth as Yates shot up the mountain in front of him, yet is still in a strong position with an advantage of two minutes and 21 seconds over Damiano Caruso.

Yates moved into third place overall, with three minutes and 23 seconds to make up on the 2019 Tour de France champion from Colombia.

Bernal has been troubled by a lingering back injury and had to really dig in, with great support from team-mate Daniel Martinez, as Yates made a statement in the final week of the race.

Hugh Carthy dropped off the podium to fifth as he suffered late on another hugely challenging day.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 4:54:38
2. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) +00:13
3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +00:30
4. Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) +01:20
5. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +01:20

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 71:32:05
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +02:21
3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +03:23

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 113
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) 110

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 180
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 109
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) 79

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