Egan Bernal retained a two-minute lead in the Giro d’Italia on Saturday when he followed stage 20 winner Damiano Caruso across the Alpe Motta summit finish line. Caruso tightened his grip on second place in the overall standings. Still, Ineos leader Bernal has a big enough lead to go into Sunday’s last day 30.3km individual time-trial to Milan’s Duomo cathedral, confident of adding the 2021 Giro to his 2019 Tour de France triumph.
“I’m satisfied with the result. I think we managed the situation well. We have two minutes in advantage for tomorrow’s time trial. So are in a good position,” said Colombian Bernal, winner of two stages on the Giro. Bernal was a study on a cool Saturday morning as stage 20 embarked from the pretty town of Verbania on the shore of Lake Maggiore, where in warm sunshine, the peloton headed towards 38kms of climbing on three snow capped mountains.
The race ascended its final climb towards the Alpe Motta Frenchman Romain Bardet and Italy’s Caruso led. Bernal bided his time behind his sherpa Daniel Martinez before unleashing a late burst on the steep slope to drop third-placed Simon Yates and overtake Bardet, who crept into the top ten with his performance.
Caruso crossed the summit to a rapturous reception as he won his first significant tour stage, 24sec ahead of Bernal as Englishman Yates finished sixth on the day at 51 sec. “I’m not the champion, but I had my day,” said Bahrain-Victorious rider Caruso, who had adopted ultra-conservative stealth tactics until his attack Saturday.
Bernal heads to Milan with an overall lead of 1min 59sec on Caruso with Yates third at 3min 23sec, after the top three finished stage 1’s individual time-trial within six seconds of each other. Ineos Grenadiers are going for a third Giro after Tao Geoghegan Hart won it in 2020 and Chris Froome in 2018.