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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 16: Egan Bernal solos to second stage win, pads overall lead

The Ineos Grenadier goes into second rest day wearing leader's jersey, while behind him the GC shuffled again.

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Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) won a weather-shortened stage 16 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia.

Wearing the maglia rosa of the overall race leader, the young Colombian launched his race-winning attack inside of 21 kilometers to go.

Bernal passed the remnants of the break on the final climb and soloed the remaining 15km descent to victory on wet roads, in temperatures just above freezing.

“It’s a great victory. To win with the maglia rosa is special and I wanted to show it,” said Bernal.

He has been the race leader — and also lead the best young rider category — since his stage 9 win.

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) rode into third on the stage and second overall on the general classification crossing the finish line just behind Romain Bardet (Team DSM). Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), and a handful of GC favorites all ceded big chunks of time on the Dolomite stage.

How it happened

Stage 16 was planned to be 212km, and wind through several of the Dolomites high-elevation passes. However, the stage was shortened to 153km and the final two climbs — the Passo Fedaia and the Passo Pordoi — were cut due to severe weather conditions and concerns about rider safety.

Discussion between teams, riders, representatives, and race officials took place before the scheduled start, and the decision was made to reroute the stage and delay the start by about 30 minutes.

With the stage modified, GC hopefuls took it upon themselves to launch an early attack to put pressure on Bernal, and to better their respective standings.

At 46.8km break of Gorka Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech), João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar Team), Vincenzo Nibali and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segaredo), and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) had four-and-a-half minutes on the maglia rosa. But not for long.

EF Education-Nippo took control of the front of the chase in cold and rainy conditions, to better Hugh Carthy’s standings.

The final ascent of the modified course, on Passo Giau, had 29 hairpin turns and was this year’s Cima Coppi (highest point of the race) at 2,239m elevation.

Trek’s Ghebreizgabhier was dropped from the lead group inside of 39km, his work for Nibali for the day was done.

After the summit of the penultimate climb, wet descent and pressure from Carth’s squad had the break in survival mode and riding in single-file formation, having ceded three minutes in just 15km to the maglia rosa group.

Izagirre went on the move and got a small amount of distance from the other four on the wet descent. Pedrero and Nibali chased behind him, temporarily distancing Almeida and Formolo, however, just a kilometer later the small group on the front came back together.

Nibali appeared to struggle, after several attempts to lead the break into the base of the final climb. Pedrero had dropped Almeida and Formolo, and forged on, solo.

And then Bernal went on the attack at 22km out — into the first third of the final climb — and only Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) was able to stick with him — but not for long. This move brought Pedrero, still on the front, within 30 seconds of the pink jersey, as the others were absorbed one by one by the chase.

Bernal dispatched the remains of the break and rode solo over the summit of the Passo Giau. He was just 17km of wet descending roads from his second stage win.

A competent bike handler even on cold and wet roads, riding a bike equipped with rim brakes, the young Colombian stretched his maximum advantage to nearly 40 seconds.

With a GC shuffle in the making behind him, Bardet battled with Caruso in the closing 10km and was able to get his wheel across the line in second, while Caruso settled for third.

“I wanted to do something special today. I wanted to show I am back in the game. The team believed in me during the stage and I just tried to go and do something special,” said Bernal. “The [stage] was hard, but when the race is hard because of the weather you need to be hard with the mentality. I had the mentality at the start of the race and I kept it. It was a day to suffer and we did it.”

What’s to come

After the second rest day Tuesday, stage 17 on Wednesday goes from Canazei to Sega di Ala. While not as mountainous as stage 16, the route will take on a massive elevation loss before taking riders over a cat 3 climb. In the second half of the stage, over a few small bumps, the route will travel over two cat 1 climbs — first the Passo San Valentino, and then the climb to the finish in Sega di Ala — which are sure to further shuffle the general classification.

2021 Giro d'Italia stage 17 route profile.
2021 Giro d’Italia stage 17 route profile. Photo: PCS

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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