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

Egan Bernal earned a second stage win at the Giro d'Italia on Monday to strengthen his grip on the maglia rosa.

INEOS Grenadiers rider Bernal has led the general classification since his stage nine triumph and moved two minutes and 24 seconds clear with another victory on stage 16.

Miserable weather conditions reduced the route down to a 153-kilometre ride and the Colombian profited with an outstanding attack on the Passo Giau.

A six-man attack ahead of the GC group was reduced to five when Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier was dropped having put Trek-Segafredo team-mate Vincenzo Nibali in position to challenge.

Their advantage was just a minute and 40 seconds at the bottom of the Giau, though, and Bernal beat the remaining quintet on the climb to emerge out front alone.

There was never a realistic proposition of Bernal being reeled in on the descent to Cortina d'Ampezzo, with his final margin of 27 seconds trimmed slightly as he removed his cape to show off the maglia rosa.

"I wanted to put on a show," said Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France winner. "This is the kind of cycling I like, when it's wet and cold and you need 'grinta' (grit).

"I wanted to do something special. It's risky but I thought I could do it and the team believed in me."

It was a risk that certainly paid off as Bernal can now head into a rest day with a healthy lead and just five stages remaining.

Damiano Caruso, previously third, is now Bernal's nearest challenger after matching Romain Bardet behind the stage winner, while Simon Yates endured a punishing day as he struggled to keep pace with the GC group, finishing 11th – two minutes and 36 seconds back – to tumble to fifth in the standings.

STAGE RESULT

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:22:41
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) +00:27
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious)
4. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) +01:18
5. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 66:36:04
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +02:24
3. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) +03:40

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) 136
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 107
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 53

Lorenzo Fortunato was a surprise but deserved winner on a brutal stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia, as overall leader Egan Bernal stretched his lead in the race for the maglia rosa.

Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team rider Fortunato was part of an 11-rider breakaway as the peloton climbed the iconic Zoncolan in the final stages of the 206.5 kilometre ride from Cittadella.

Together with Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Fortunato slipped away from the rest of the pack and then attacked solo on the toughest part of the climb with around 2.3km left.

Tratnik was in view with around 1,000 metres to go but Fortunato held on for a win on what is his Grand Tour debut.

"The breakaway went easy all day but at the start of the Zoncolan I attacked and stayed behind Tratnik. My legs are very good and I'm very, very happy," he said after the stage.

Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) finished fourth on the stage, having responded to a late attack from Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) and responding with a move of his own on the Briton with only a few hundred metres remaining.

Yates is now second overall, one minute and 33 seconds back, with Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) a further 18 seconds behind in third.

Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana Premier Tech) had started the day second in the General Classification but could not reply to the moves made by Bernal and Yates, and now finds himself fourth overall.

"I think it’s a good gap, but I need to have focus," Bernal said. 

"Everything can happen in the Giro. It looks like 1:30 is enough time but you never know. I need to be calm with the gap."


STAGE RESULT

1. Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) 5:17:22
2. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) +00:26
3. Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) +00:59
4. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) +1:43
5. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +1:47

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 58:30:47
2. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +1:33
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +1:51

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 126
3. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 113

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 96
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 57
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 50

Giacomo Nizzolo finally came out on top in a sprint finish at the Giro d’Italia to win stage 13 as Egan Bernal retained his overall lead in the race.

Nizzolo had finished second on 11 occasions previously in the race, including missing out this year to Tim Merlier on stage two and Caleb Ewan at the end of stage five.

However, the Italian made sure he would not be denied on Friday, overhauling Edoardo Affini following a 198-kilometre journey from Ravenna to Verona.

"Finally I've got a stage victory at the Giro!" Nizzolo said. "Today I decided to launch a long sprint.

"I chose to risk staying too long in the wind rather than wait for too long behind other riders with the chance of being blocked. My choice paid off."

Affini appeared set to be rewarded for his late attack from long range, yet the Jumbo-Visma rider did not quite have enough to hold off the fast-finishing Nizzolo and had to settle for second place, just ahead of Peter Sagan.

As for the general classification, Bernal was able to stay safe and conserve some energy ahead of Saturday’s potentially pivotal stage that finishes on a climb up the famous Monte Zoncolan.

The Colombian crossed the line with the peloton to remain 45 seconds clear of Aleksandr Vlasov in the battle for the maglia rosa.

"Finally we had an easy day," Bernal said.

"It would be special to win atop the Zoncolan tomorrow but that means controlling the whole peloton, so I'd be happy if I just keep the maglia rosa."

STAGE RESULT

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 4:42:19
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +0:00
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) "
4. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) "
5. Fernando Gaviria Rendon (UAE Team Emirates) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 53:11:42
2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:45
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +1:12

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 126
3. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 113

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 96
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 48
3. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) 24

Egan Bernal produced a storming finish to win stage nine of the Giro d'Italia – a result good enough to see the Colombian take over as the new race leader.

Bernal claimed a long-overdue maiden Grand Tour stage triumph following a gruelling 157-kilometre ride from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice that concluded with an uphill finish on a gravel track.

Geoffrey Bouchard and Koen Bouwman were involved in a breakaway group but were unable to remain clear, the duo overtaken within 500 metres of the line.

A determined Bernal pushed hard to claim potentially crucial time in the battle for the maglia rosa, finishing seven seconds clear of Giulio Ciccone and Alexandr Vlasov, who were second and third respectively.

The 2019 Tour de France winner now has a 15-second cushion over nearest rival Remco Evenepoel in the overall standings.

"I cannot believe what just happened, I just won my first stage in a Grand Tour," Bernal said in his post-race interview.

"I made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am now. I was thinking I would do well today but I was not sure whether I could have won the stage.

"My team-mates had a lot of confidence in me, they told me I could do it: this victory is for them, they really believe in me."

Attila Valter had held the pink jersey heading into the stage, yet he found the going tough on the final climb and finished almost a minute behind the stage winner.

Meanwhile, Matej Mohoric was taken to hospital following a dramatic crash during proceedings. Team Bahrain Victorious confirmed the Slovenian would undergo tests and was to be kept under observation, as per the UCI's concussion protocol.

Mohoric somersaulted over his handlebars after coming off during a descent, with his bike splitting apart after making contact with a crash barrier.


STAGE RESULT  

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:08:23
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) +07secs
3. Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) "
4. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +10s
5. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 35:19:22
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.15
3. Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) +0.21

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 69

King of the Mountains
 
1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 51
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 48
3. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 44

Caleb Ewan sprinted to his second victory of this year's Giro d'Italia and moved into the points jersey after his stage seven triumph.

The Lotto Soudal rider beat Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) in a sprint finish at the end of a 181km stage from Notaresco to Termoli.

Australian Ewan, who also triumphed on stage five, now has five career stage wins at the Giro and 11 victories to his name across the three grand tours.

Towards the end of a quiet stage, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) - who ultimately finished sixth - made the first move but was unable to make it stick, with Ewan winning comfortably.

Attila Valter of Groupama-FDJ remains in the leader's pink jersey after finishing safely in the peloton. He is 11 seconds clear of Remco Evenepoel.

"It was a question of being smart and a lot of teamwork," stage winner Ewan said as he described the finish over some tight and twisty roads.

"There were a few points in the last 10km where we needed to be in the front so we didn't have to brake and we got a really good ride in. They did a really good job.

"My legs were burning at the end, it was basically sprinting for the last 450 metres with a slight uphill so it was a tough one.

"When Gavaria goes you know he has the strength and the speed to hold it. I had a bit of a run and really accelerated."
 

STAGE RESULT  

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 4:42:12
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) same time
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) "
4. Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) "
5. Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarche - Wanty - Gobert Materiaux) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 26:59:18
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.16

Points Classification         

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 106
2. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76

King of the Mountains

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 26
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 18
3. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) 16

Gino Mader climbed to the first professional victory of his career on stage six of the Giro d'Italia and Attila Valter took over as the race leader on Thursday.

Mader gave Bahrain Victorious a much-needed lift a day after their team leader Mikel Landa crashed out of the race.

The 24-year-old Swiss was among six riders who made a breakaway on the 160-kilometre route from Grotte di Frasassi on a miserable rainy day.

That group was increased to eight, but there was one man who went on his own up the 15km final ascent to the finish in Ascoli and it was Mader who went away to take the win.

Mader attacked with 3.3km to go in grim weather conditions and there was no catching him as he finished 12 seconds ahead of Egan Bernal, also taking over as the leader of king of the mountains.

His victory ensured for the first time in Giro history riders from different countries have won the opening six stages of the race.

Groupama-FDJ rider Valter took the maglia rosa from Alessandro De Marchi, becoming the first Hungarian to have that honour.

Valter leads Remco Evenepoel by 11 seconds, while 2019 Tour de France champion Bernal is only 16 seconds adrift of the new leader in third place.

Bernal showed no sign of the back problem that has troubled him, making a late attack to drop some of his general classification rivals after receiving great backing from his INEOS Grenadiers team-mates a day after Pavel Sivakov was forced to abandon the race.

 

STAGE RESULT  

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 4:17:52
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.12
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0.12
4. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) +0.12
5. Giulio Ciccone (Trek–Segafredo) +0.14

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 22:17:06
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck–Quick-Step +0.11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.16

Points Classification        

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 72
2. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 68
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 58

King of the Mountains

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 26
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 18
3. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo–Kometa) 18

INEOS Grenadiers started the defence of their Giro d'Italia title in some style on Saturday, as Filippo Ganna cruised to victory in the stage one time trial.

Tao Geoghegan Hart finished top of the general classification standings in 2020, and Ganna ensured INEOS hold the maglia rosa once more after day one. 

Ganna won the same stage last year – a 15km individual time trial from Monreale to Palermo – and repeated the feat on an 8.6km course in Turin this time around.

The defending time trial world champion, who won four stages in total in the 2020 Giro, went round in a time of 8:47, beating Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) by 10 seconds.

Affini and his team-mate Tobias Foss had looked well placed after their efforts, but Ganna ultimately had far too much power as he claimed what is the third-fastest individual time trial record in Giro history.

"It was a lot of time waiting in the hot seat at the finish, but I've won the stage, I'm here, and I'm really happy," Ganna, who recorded an estimated average speed of 58.748kmph, said in a flash interview.

"Now, we think about tomorrow, and recovering, because this Giro is really hard. I have this amazing victory."

Ganna is the first rider to wear the pink jersey after stage one of successive Giros since Francisco Moser in 1984 and 1985, while only Diego Ulissi (eight) and Vincenzo Nibali (seven) have won more stages in the event of the riders taking part this year.

Deceuninck-Quick Step riders Joao Almeida, Remi Cavagna and Remco Evenepoel all claimed top 10 finishes, while only a second separated GC favourites Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) and Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers), who recorded times of 9:07 and 9:08 respectively.

STAGE RESULT 

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 8:47
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:10
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
4. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:17
5. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:41

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 8:47
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:10
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13

Points Classification

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 15
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) 12
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) 9

King of the Mountains

N/A

The Giro d'Italia returns to its usual spot on the calendar after its coronavirus-delayed scheduling last year and it promises to be another classic.

It was not until October that last season's event took place, with Ineos Grenadiers rider Tao Geoghegan Hart taking the honours for his first Grand Tour triumph.

However, the Briton's primary target in 2021 is the Tour de France so he will not be wearing the maglia rosa in Milan at the end of the month.

Here is a rundown of everything you need to know about this year's Giro.

 

THE ROUTE

It is 3,479 kilometres of hard graft from the start in Torino on May 8 to the finish line in Milan 22 days later.

That spans 21 stages, with two rest days, beginning and ending with individual time trials.

In between are some punishing days in the saddle, including seven major mountain stages and brief trips into Slovenia and Switzerland along the way.

All eyes will be on what could be a pivotal day in the mountains on stage 16, which takes in climbs up Passo Fedaia and the Passo Giau in the Dolomites.

The literal high point of the race – though perhaps not at all figuratively for the competitors – will also come on that day atop the Passo Pordoi, at 2,239m above sea level.

THE CONTENDERS

There is little to split Simon Yates and Giro debutant Egan Bernal in the bookies' odds, with stiff competition from elsewhere in the pack.

Bernal is from the rich stock of Ineos Grenadiers' stable and will have the backing of a strong team, as will Team BikeExchange's Yates.

Both have Grand Tour successes under their belts, Bernal winning the 2019 Tour, while Yates prevailed at the 2018 Vuelta a Espana.

Given that Geoghegan Hart was not giving any billing ahead of last year's race, it would be remiss to exclude supposed 'outsiders' from the reckoning.

On that front, Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Bernal's team-mate Pavel Sivakov would be two to look out for, while 2020 runner-up Jai Hindley (DSM) cannot be discounted.

 

PAST WINNERS

2020: Tao Geoghegan Hart 

2019: Richard Carapaz

2018: Chris Froome

2017: Tom Dumoulin 

2016: Vincenzo Nibali

EXPERT INSIGHT

Tour winner and five-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins shed some light on the supposed fragility of Bernal, suggesting the dynamic with Sivakov could prove problematic.

Wiggins favours Yates instead and suggested he could be joined on the podium by fellow Briton Hugh Carthy.

"The air of invincibility around Bernal has now gone after his failure at the Tour last year due to injury," Wiggins told Cyclingnews.

"There are question marks over his form and if he's through the period of being able to get through three weeks of racing without problems for his back.

"But for me this is Simon Yates' moment. He's won the Vuelta and it's been three years since he won that race and he dominated the Giro until Chris Froome did what he did.

"We could have two British riders [Yates and Carthy] on the podium and I think that it's going to be great race, I really do."

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