Campo Felice (Rocca di Cambio) (Italy) (AFP)
Egan Bernal in his works!
the Colombian, who came to the road by mountain bike, had fun on the dirt track of Campo Felice to win the 9th stage of the Giro and grab the pink jersey.
Irresistible in the last 500 meters, the winner of the Tour de France 2019 took over the Italian Giulio Ciccone, the last to resist him, and the Russian Aleksandr Vlasov.
He especially distanced the Belgian Remco Evenepoel by a handful of seconds, ten precisely, increased by the bonus allocated to the winner.
A debutant on the Giro, Bernal achieved his first success in the Giro d'Italia and imitated a line (exactly 14) of stage-winning Colombian riders, including Nairo Quintana, the only one to appear on the final list. He especially returned to victory, nine months after the Route d'Occitanie which had preceded a difficult period and his double retirement from the Dauphiné then the Tour de France for back pain.
If he complained about his back again this season, Bernal showed great ease in the final climb, at the breaks in slope, leading to Campo Felice, one of the ski resorts frequented by the Romans.
His forcing condemned the Frenchman Geoffrey Bouchard and the Dutchman Koen Bouwman, the survivors of the breakaway of the day who still had a lead of about fifty seconds at the entrance of the last 1600 meters in gravel.
- Evenepoel limits the loss -
"I can't believe what just happened, I just won my first stage in a grand tour", rejoiced the Colombian, who had not won a stage during his victorious Tour de France in 2019. He was in a position to do so in the Tignes stage but the race was stopped due to a landslide.
"I thought I was going to do well today but I didn't know if I was going to be able to win the stage. My teammates told me that I could do it: this victory is for them, they really believe in me ", assured Bernal, who added to have" given everything, for four minutes thoroughly "to finish.
Evenepoel, who had strangely revived the pace himself at the front of the peloton before the final climb, found himself less well placed in the dirt sector.
But the young Belgian (21), who preceded the Colombian by 5 seconds in the standings at the start of the stage, limited the loss to now find himself 15 seconds behind his great rival.
Ciccone, who had shone in a finish of this type of the Tour de France 2019, at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, rose to 4th place in the hierarchy, behind Vlasov.
The gaps remain tight after nine days of racing during which the Briton Simon Yates, one of the favorites at the start, was still slightly behind (12 seconds), at the Sunday level of his compatriot Hugh Carthy and the French Romain Bardet.
On Monday, the 10th stage links L'Aquila to Foligno on a 139-kilometer course favorable to sprinters, on the eve of the first day of rest.
© 2021 AFP