The 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal confirmed his recovery from injury when he won the Giro d'Italia in Milan on Sunday. The Colombian, who suffered a long period of back problems after his Tour success, went into the race as one of the favourites but emphasised at the start that he was uncertain how his body would hold up to the tough three week event.
In the end he was more than capable, winning two stages and beating his nearest rival Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) by one minute and 29 seconds. Stage 19 winner Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) finished four minutes and 15 seconds back in third. Ireland's Dan Martin ended up a solid 10th overall and fourth in the King of the Mountains competition, as well as winning stage 17.
“I was just focussed on my effort,” said Bernal, who finished 24th on the stage. “I was just thinking I can’t do a mistake, I don’t want to lose the Giro in one corner. I was starting to push in the parts where I could push, but also in the corners I didn’t take any risks. It was the first time trial that I actually enjoyed. I always suffer in the time trials, but today was a special one with my coach on the radio. It was really nice.”
He said he was moved by the reception he got along the course and at the finish at Milan’s historic Duomo cathedral. “It was special. I was looking at lot at the Colombian flags everywhere and all the people cheering for me. When I arrived and I realised I won, it was an incredible feeling. I can’t describe what I am feeling inside of me.”
The final day time trial was held over 30.3 kilometres of flat, fast roads and was won by Bernal's Ineos Grenadiers teammate Filippo Ganna.
The world time trial champion punctured close to the finish but still had enough horsepower to take the provisional fastest time.
However Frenchman Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) had started after Ganna and while he was 18 seconds back at the intermediate time check, Ganna's puncture and bike change had seen him lose an estimated 20 seconds after that point. Cavagna's chance was dashed when he bizarrely carried straight on at a right hand turn, hitting the barriers and falling. He quickly remounted but lost the stage to Ganna by 12 seconds.
“When I had the puncture, I say, ‘today, I am unlucky, I will lose the race,’” said Ganna. “But I knew I had a good gap to the second rider. I changed the bike really well, really fast, like in a Formula One race.
“And then when I crossed the line I think, ‘okay, now we wait for Cavagna, because he is really good rider, he [DOES] a really good time trial.’ In the end, when I saw his crash, I think, ‘okay, we have been played the same card.’ I punctured, he crashed, and the result I think is the same without my puncture and his crash.”
The victory continued a historic run for Ganna, who began an unbeaten streak of five consecutive time trial victories on the opening day of the 2020 Giro.
Some of the riders from the Giro will be present at this year’s Tour de France, which begins on June 26th. It remains to be seen if those lining out will include Martin and Nicolas Roche (Team DSM), who finished 59th overall in Italy, or if they will miss the race and instead concentrate on the Vuelta a España as their next three week event.
Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is set to compete in the Tour. He is the top sprinter in the sport, winning two stages plus the green jersey last year.