Six days before the Giro's arrival in Milan, Egan Bernal may have struck a decisive blow in the Dolomites.
The 24-year-old Colombian dominated the 16th stage of the Tour of Italy and consolidated his position at the top of the standings after this rainy day.
He won solo and preceded French Romain Bardet and Italian Damiano Caruso by around 30 seconds.
"I wanted to do something special and show that I was back," said Bernal at the microphone of Eurosport UK.
The winner of the Tour de France 2019 had abandoned the Grande Boucle in 2020, due to a back injury that still haunts him.
Egan Bernal even took the time in the final to take off his raincoat to show off his pink jersey.
The boss is the 24-year-old Colombian.
- The Gruppetto (@LeGruppetto) May 24, 2021
The stage was shortened to 153 kilometers due to bad weather conditions and deprived of two of its three major passes, the Fedaia and the Pordoi.
In the standings, the winner of the Tour de France 2019 now has 2 minutes and 24 seconds ahead of Caruso, and 3 minutes and 40 seconds over Briton Hugh Carthy, before the second day of rest.
Two attacks from Bernal
A breakaway took shape from the first ascent of the day, in the first hour of the race.
His five survivors (Almeida, Formolo, G. Izagirre, Nibali, Pedrero) arrived at the foot of Giau with a lead limited to less than two minutes.
In the group of favorites led by the EF Education team, Bernal attacked twice and isolated himself 4 kilometers from the top of this pass culminating at 2,233 meters.
If his offensive could not be broadcast live on TV screens, he rocked to the top with 45 seconds ahead of Caruso and 1 minute 13 seconds over Bardet.
Author of a great descent, Bardet (7th in the general classification now) took over Caruso but without being able to come back to the Colombian who took the time to take off his raincoat to cross the line with the pink jersey clearly visible.
Evenepoel let go
The Italian Giulio Ciccone finished fourth in the stage, 1 minute and 18 seconds, ahead of Carthy and the Portuguese Joao Almeida.
Briton Simon Yates, second in the Giro at the start of Sacile, let go before Bernal attacked.
He lost more than two and a half minutes.
The Belgian Remco Evenepoel gave in for his part before the last 30 kilometers and the ascent of the passo Giau.
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