Ineos Grenadiers rider Egan Bernal of Colombia celebrates winning stage nine of the Giro d'Italia in Castel Di Sangro, Italy, May 16 2021. Picture: Picture: REUTERS/JENNIFER LORENZINI
Ineos Grenadiers rider Egan Bernal of Colombia celebrates winning stage nine of the Giro d'Italia in Castel Di Sangro, Italy, May 16 2021. Picture: Picture: REUTERS/JENNIFER LORENZINI

Campo Felice — Egan Bernal blew away his rivals on the Giro d’Italia as he won the ninth stage with a brutal, gravity-defying effort in the final climb to claim the race’s overall lead on Sunday.

The 2019 Tour de France champion produced impressive acceleration inside the last 1km of a gravel road final section to beat Italian Giulio Ciccone and Russian Aleksandr Vlasov, who were second and third respectively 7 sec behind.

Belgian prospect Remco Evenepoel, back to competitive racing nine months after sustaining multiple injuries in a crash at the Giro di Lombardia, took fourth place, 10 sec off the pace.

Colombian Bernal, perfectly set up by his Ineos-Grenadiers teammate Gianni Moscon’s infernal pace in the finale, whizzed past France’s Geoffrey Bouchard and Dutchman Keen Bouwman 300m from the line and never looked back.

Ciccone managed to follow but quickly cracked as Bernal flew towards an awe-inspiring victory as Maglia Rosa holder Attila Valter of Hungary ground away in the background.

“I can’t believe what’s happening,” a tearful Bernal said after his first stage win at a grand tour at the end of the 158km ride from Castel di Sangro. “I didn’t expect to be here in that position after the Tour last year.”

Overall, Bernal, who has struggled with back pain since abandoning the Tour last year, leads Evenepoel by 15 sec. Vlasov is third, 21 sec off the pace, with Ciccone, who appears to be becoming Trek Segafredo’s team leader as double champion Vincenzo Nibali continues to struggle, a further 15 sec back.

Reuters

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