Egan Bernal lands Giro d’Italia stage nine with Dan Martin fifth

2019 Tour de France winner has battled back problems but returns to form on Sunday

Colombian rider Egan Bernal of the Ineos Grenadiers team won stage nine of the Giro D’Italia. Photograph: Luca Zennaro/EPA

Colombian rider Egan Bernal of the Ineos Grenadiers team won stage nine of the Giro D’Italia. Photograph: Luca Zennaro/EPA

 

The 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal showed he has recovered from the back problems which have affected him during the past two seasons, bursting clear of the other contenders to take stage nine of the Giro d’Italia. The Colombian put in a devastating kick and reached the line seven seconds ahead of Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech).

Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) was a further three seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Ireland’s Dan Martin (Israel Start Up Nation), who had another strong performance in finishing fifth.

Bernal’s final kilometre surge carried him past the final two riders remaining out front from the day’s breakaway, Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) and Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r Citroën). He was very moved by the success, both because it is his first stage victory in a three week Tour and because it marks the end of a tough period in his career.

“I even can’t believe what is happening, I just won my first stage in a Grand Tour,” he said. “I think I made a lot of sacrifices to be in this position after the Tour last year [from which he withdrew due to injury], so I am really happy.”

The 24-year-old is regarded as one of the most talented riders in cycling but admitted that he wasn’t sure how things would go heading into the stage. “I was really thinking to do well today, but I was not sure I should go for the stage,” he explained. “It was more because my teammates had a lot of confidence in me. They told me ‘you can do it, we will take the responsibility [OF RIDING]for you,’ and you know what happened. I think this victory is more for them because they really believed in me.”

The mountain stage to Campo Felice featured four categorised climbs, including a first category ascent to the finish line. The final 1.6 kilometres of that was over rough roads of gravel and dirt and this testing surface plus a relentless pace put paid to the pink jersey of overnight race leader Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ). The Italian had led the race since stage six but cracked with just over a kilometre remaining, losing 49 seconds and sliding to fifth overall.

Bernal takes over at the top and now holds a 15 seconds advantage over Evenepoel and 21 seconds over Vlasov. Martin remains eighth overall but did gain time over various rivals. He is now 51 seconds behind Bernal and 30 seconds off Vlasov’s third place overall.

“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,” Martin said.

“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 kilometre, which wasn’t exactly ideal.”

Martin is biding his time before stages he feels will better suit his abilities. “This was another day where you could lose the race. I’m just happy to continue where we are. I’m looking forward to getting into the real mountains.”

Those will come next week. The Giro d’Italia continues on Monday with an undulating stage to Foligno, which will most likely end in a bunch sprint. The first rest day of the race follows on Tuesday and then, after that, the race moves towards more challenging terrain.

Giro d’Italia, Italy (WorldTour)

Stage 9, Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice: 1, Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos

Grenadiers) 158 kilometres in 4 hours 8 mins 23 secs; 2, G. Ciccone

(Trek-Segafredo) at 7 secs; 3, A. Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) same time; 4, R. Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 10 secs; 5, D. Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) same time; 6, D. Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) at

12 secs

Other Irish: 68, N. Roche (Team DSM) at 7 mins 31 secs

General classification after stage 9: 1, Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos

Grenadiers) 35 hours 19 mins 22 secs; 2, R. Evenepoel

(Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 15 secs; 3, A. Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at

21 secs; 4, G. Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) at 36 secs; 5, A. Valter

(Groupama-FDJ) at 43 secs; 6, H. Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) at 44 secs

Irish: 8, D. Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) at 51 secs, 66, N. Roche (Team DSM) at 41 mins 16 secs

Points classification: 1, Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83; 2, G. Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76; 3, E. Viviani (Cofidis) 69

Mountains classification: 1, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën Team) 51; 2, E. Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) 48; 3, G. Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) 44

Young riders classification: 1, Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 35 hours 19 mins 22 secs; 2, R. Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 15 secs; 3, A. Vlasov (Astana - Premier Tech) at 21 secs

Combativity classification: Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)

Sprints classification: Pellaud

Breakaway classification: Pellaud

Teams classification: 1, Ineos Grenadiers, 106 hours 1 min 14 secs; 2, Bahrain Victorious, at 3 mins 26 secs; 3, Team BikeExchange, at 5 mins 47 secs

Other: 6, Team DSM, at 11 mins 5 secs; 13, Israel Start-up Nation, at 55 mins 37 secs

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