Giro Stage 9: Bernal Wins first GT Stage

After an insane start to the stage, a breakaway with Simon Carr escaped and whilst it looked like some would stay clear, Egan Bernals pace up the final climb saw them caught and the Columbian win his first Grand Tour Stage. He now leads overall

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Giro Stage 9: Bernal Wins first GT Stage

Egan Bernal launched an emphatic late attack to win stage nine and move into the overall lead of the Giro d’Italia. The Colombian burst clear of the GC favourites on the gravel roads of Campo Felice, winning solo by seven seconds, and elevating himself into the maglia rosa. Bernal’s first stage win at a Grand Tour couldn’t have come in more dramatic fashion, with the break caught inside the final kilometre on the steep, traction-limited slopes.

Bernal gained time on all his rivals finishing 7 seconds ahead of Giulio Ciccone and Aleksandr Vlasov. Dan Martin was 5th, Hugh Carthy 12th, and Simon Yates 14th. Overall, Bernal now leads by 15 seconds over young Belgian star Remo Evenpoel, with Vlasov in third at 21 seconds. Hugh Carthy dropped a place to 6th at 44 seconds and Simon Yates held his position (9th) now at 55 seconds.

The battle for the breakaway played out for more than one hour. With attack after attack reeled in, eventually 17 riders were able to go clear with Spanish road race champion Luis Leon Sanchez, stage winner Gino Mäder, Britain’s Simon Carr and Bauke Mollema among the riders. With four climbs on the menu, the peloton controlled the breakaway’s advantage and on the category 2 Ovindoli climb, the breakaway began to split.

Towards the end of the stage, the front group split up leaving just a couple of riders with a gap of about one minute ahead of the chasing the peloton. For a moment, it seemed like the winner would come from the breakaway but on the final uphill gravel section towards the line, Bernal caught the two leaders and soloed to victory. Martin crossed the line just 10 seconds down in fifth place, keeping his eighth place in the general classification. Bernal now also leads the race overall.

Egan Bernal: “I cannnot believe what is happening. I just won my first stage in a Grand Tour. I made a lot of sacrifices to be in this position after the Tour last year. I’m really happy. I was really thinking to do well today but I was not sure to go for the stage. It was more because of my team-mates – they had a lot of confidence in me. I was not sure but they told me: ‘you can do it, we will take the responsibility for you and what happens, happens.’ This victory is more for them because they really believed in me. A lot of things have happened to get me here, really, and there is a long way to go in the Giro, but I think that his win, and this Maglia Rosa, for me, it has been worth it all.”

Aleksandr Vlasov: “It was a great experience for me on this kind of final. It was a very tough summit especially because of the gravel section. I tried to attack in the final and I think it was a good move, but it was a bit difficult for me to hold the bike stable on this surface. My legs worked really well and I felt good, but the gravel was a hard challenge anyway. I am happy with my performance and I did all I could on this type of finish. So, I am happy so far and let’s see how it will be tomorrow and after the first rest day,” said Vlasov.

Dan Martin: “I got a bit swamped coming into the bottom of the dirt climb but at the end, I actually managed to get into a half-decent position. It was a tricky climb because when you’re riding on dirt you can’t really stand in the pedals, which is how I normally create my really high power. Also, there were a lot of guys coming back from the breakaway who were blocking the road, which caused me to go off the gas two or three times in the last kilometer, which wasn’t exactly ideal. This was another day where you could lose the race and I’m just happy to continue where we are. I’m looking forward to getting into the real mountains!”

Romain Bardet: “It was another pretty hard stage,” explained Bardet at the finish. “It was a good job from Michael to be in the break because it was a really hard start and he did well there. The rest of the guys did a good job to really position me up front for the gravel section. I felt good, I just made a mistake in my trajectory with 200 metres to go that cost me a lot of speed to get into the finish. Anyway, it’s a good day and I feel stronger day-by-day so we’re well on our way to the second week.”

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