It was the stage that just kept giving—and taking.
Gravel, attacks, chaos, and carnage: The second week of the Giro d’Italia got off with a bang Wednesday with the strade bianche stage to Montalcino. While Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka-Assos) took the stage honors, the main interest was in the GC fight behind.
Egan Bernal was the major winner of the day as he dramatically extended his lead in the overall classification. He was the first home of the GC contenders thanks to a ruthlessly aggressive approach to the stage.
Remco Evenepoel was one of the biggest losers of the day as he suffered badly and gave away more than two minutes to the pink jersey, slipping down to seventh in the overall standings.
Bernal now leads the general classification by 45 seconds over Aleksandr Vlasov, who lost 23 seconds to the maglia rosa but moved up a position overall thanks to Evenepoel’s off-day.
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 19, 2021
Who finished where on the general classification?
- Egan Bernal 00:00
- Emanuel Buchmann +00:03
- Aleksandr Vlasov +00:23
- Damiano Caruso +00:26
- Simon Yates at s.t.
- Tobias Foss at s.t.
- Hugh Carthy +00:32
- Giulio Ciccone +01:47
- Marc Soler +1:58
- Vincenzo Nibali at s.t.
- Remco Evenepoel +02:08
- Romain Bardet at s.t.
- Attila Valter +03:07
- Davide Formolo +06:14
- Dan Martin at s.t.
Bernal stamps his authority
Bernal’s mountain biking heritage was on full show as he expertly navigated the dirt tracks of Tuscany. After claiming third at the Strade Bianche earlier this year, the Colombian was expected to have the upper hand on this trickiest of days, but few would have expected him to assert himself with such dominance.
Ineos set to work immediately once on the first of four gravel sectors with the one-man wrecking crew of Filippo Ganna. The big Italian set an interminable pace that destroyed the peloton. Evenepoel showed some early signs of weakness under duress from the world time trial champion but managed to regroup initially.
Sensing an opportunity, Gianni Moscon and Jhonatan Narváez picked up where Ganna had left off when the Italian ran out of steam before Bernal could finish the job. It was a meticulous dismantling of the young Belgian Evenepoel, who will need to gather his thoughts ahead of another day in the mountains Thursday.
Questions will be asked about Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s management of the situation as Evenepoel was left to chase alone for several minutes before João Almeida dropped back to help him out.
— Deceuninck-QuickStep (@deceuninck_qst) May 19, 2021
A new-look GC
Bernal and Evenepoel are not the only two riders in this Giro d’Italia GC contest and there was plenty of movement up and down the overall standings. A total of three riders dropped from the top 10 in Montalcino, with another three eagerly taking their places.
Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Davide Formolo (UAE-Team Emirates), who had started the day eighth and 10th overall respectively, were probably the biggest losers on the strade bianche. Both were shelled out the back pretty quickly as the race hit the gravel roads and crossed the line more than six minutes back on Bernal.
Martin is now in 18th place overall at 7:06 back, while Formolo is one place behind him at 7:16.
Former maglia rosa wearer Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) was the other rider to find the top-10 trap door opening beneath him as he finished just over three minutes behind the man who took the pink jersey from him.
Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) used their climbing legs to spring up the GC ladder, both rising nine spots each.
Foss went on a mid-stage attack with his teammate George Bennett that ultimately didn’t work out, but he still came home among the GC favorites to leap several riders in the standings to ninth.
Buchmann put in a big move in the final kilometers of the stage and made it stick, though Bernal would eventually bridge over to him. He gave away three seconds to the Colombian on the run to the line in Montalcino, but his performance sees him climb a whopping nine spots up to sixth overall at 1:50 back on the pink jersey.
Ineos’ Dani Martínez is the other new entry into the top 10, rising one spot in the overall shakeout.
Elsewhere in the top 10, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) rose four spots to a podium place behind Bernal and Vlasov. Behind him now sit the British pairing of Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) and Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), with 10 seconds separating third, fourth and fifth.
Evenepoel is now down at seventh overall while Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has fallen to eighth after also suffering a difficult day on the bike.
There is still plenty of Giro d’Italia to ride and the fight for the overall classification is far from over.
How the top 10 looks now
- Egan Bernal (+0) 42:35:21
- Aleksandr Vlasov (+1) +00:45
- Damiano Caruso (+4) +01:12
- Hugh Carthy (+2) +01:17
- Simon Yates (+4) +01:22
- Emanuel Buchmann (+9) +01:50
- Remco Evenepoel (-5) +02:22
- Giulio Ciccone (-4) +02:24
- Tobias Foss (+9) +02:49
- Dani Martínez (+1) +3:15