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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    Santiago Buitrago won stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia as Richard Carapaz kept hold of the maglia rosa despite pressure from Jai Hindley.

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    Having caught Gijs Leemreize on the final climb, Buitrago cruised to victory with a margin of 35 seconds.

    Mathieu van der Poel turned in another gutsy ride, but the Dutchman did not have enough in the tank to push on for a second stage win of the Giro after going out ahead on his own with around 65km remaining. 

    Van der Poel's compatriot Leemreize crossed the line second, almost two minutes ahead of third-placed Jan Hirt, who won Tuesday's stage.

    Hugh Carthy was fourth ahead of Carapaz and Hindley, who both finished two minutes and 53 seconds behind Buitrago.

    "It's been a really hard stage. I think we're happy – every day everything is being defined more, everything is clearing up in the GC and I'm happy to have the jersey another day," said Carapaz, who holds a three-second lead over Hindley.

    "Tomorrow will be an important day – we have to get through the remaining days, no day is easy and we've got a very difficult weekend coming up."

    Hard luck for Yates

    It has been a frustrating race for Simon Yates, who has won two stages but found himself way out of contention for the maglia rosa.

    His race is now run, with Yates withdrawing due to a knee problem, with Team BikeExchange-Jayco team doctor Matteo Beltemacchi confirming: "Despite daily therapy and Simon's tenacity, the knee pain grew worse."

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) 2:27:41
    2. Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) +0:35
    3. Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +2:28
    4. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) +2:28
    5. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:53

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 73:19:40
    2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
    3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
    2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 117

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 218
    2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
    3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

  • Giro d'Italia: Hirt withstands the pain as Hindley closes in on Carapaz Giro d'Italia: Hirt withstands the pain as Hindley closes in on Carapaz

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    "I'm glad I managed to go solo. I always said that my biggest achievement would be to win a stage at the Giro d'Italia and I could stop after that, but I won't stop now."

    Carapaz said: "It's been a hard stage and at the end I'm happy. I thought I was going to win the sprint for third place.

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    Mythical Mortirolo

    An initially big breakaway group split on the Mortirolo Pass, one of the most notorious climbs in professional cycling.

    Hirt was one of the riders to drop off, but he recovered brilliantly and joined a seven-strong group that wound its way to the final climb.

    "Every time I hear Mortirolo I want to anticipate. I wanted to go in the breakaway today," Hirt said.

    "There were difficult moments when the group split, so then we had to come back on the Mortirolo, then in the end on the last climb I had a problem with my bike, it was not shifting properly and the chain was jumping.

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    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 5:40:45
    2. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +0:07
    3. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +1:24
    4. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +1:24
    5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +1:24

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 68:49:06
    2. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:03
    3. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +0:44

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
    2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 117

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 167
    2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 99
    3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 92

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    Buitrago took second at 1 minute 31 seconds behind the Trek-Segafredo rider, while Antonio Pedrero was third at 2:19 behind the Italian, with Carthy in fourth.

    Meanwhile, Carapaz retained the overall lead despite crashing with 171km remaining, being one of around a dozen riders to be brought down when the back of the peloton came to a standstill after a collision, with Saturday's stage 14 winner Simon Yates also hitting the deck.

    But the 2019 Giro winner recovered to finish the stage and retain a seven-second advantage over Hindley, with Joao Almeida 30 seconds behind the Ecuadorian, while Koen Bouwman edged ahead of Diego Rosa in the mountain classifications. 

    Ciccone's finest hour

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    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 4:37:41
    2. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) + 1:31
    3. Antonio Pedrero (Spa/Movistar) +2:19 
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    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 63:06:57
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    2. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 92
    3. Jai Hindly (Bora-Hansgrohe) 62

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