Giro d'Italia 2021 - ‘What a fight!’ – Egan Bernal and Remco Evenepoel have surprise sprint
“It was a lot of energy to use though, wasn’t it?” questioned Dan Lloyd after Bernal and Evenepoel took their maglia rosa battle into an intermediate sprint. Evenepoel gained a second on the Colombian, but with two tough weeks still on the horizon, was it a sensible move from the pair? The Giro returns on Wednesday after the first rest day.
‘It’s a trailer for next week!’ – Bernal v Evenepoel in surprise sprint
It’s not often you see the two GC favourites scrapping over bonus seconds on an intermediate sprint with two weeks remaining of a Grand Tour.
But that’s exactly what happened on Stage 10 as Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) duked it out with Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck–QuickStep) with 19 kilometres remaining of the run from L’Aquila to Foligno.
With Deceuninck at the front of the pack, the Belgian spotted a chance to sneak some time in the race for the maglia rosa. Unfortunately for Evenepoel, so did Bernal and Ineos.
Bernal grabbed the wheel of teammate Filippo Ganna and the pair quickly opened up a gap at the front, only for Evenepoel to reel them back in and burst clear with some impressive acceleration.
Realising the danger, with three bonus seconds up for grabs for the winner, Ineos domestique Jhonatan Narvaez charged into action and overhauled them both – leaving Evenepoel and Bernal with two- and one-second bonuses respectively on the line.
The GC rivals shook hands afterwards, with the incident a rare highlight on a day superbly controlled by Bora-Hansgrohe as Peter Sagan took his first victory at this year’s Giro.
Bernal played down the incident afterwards, saying he had not expended any extra energy.
“I was just following people. I just saw the opportunity and then I just went behind him [Ganna], when are you going behind him it’s easier,” he said.
“Finally I just take one second but I did not [make] any effort, so why not? We are here to also enjoy the race and we are doing that.”
'I did not make any effort, so why not?' - Bernal on surprise intermediate sprint
Bernal praised Bora for setting a fierce tempo, even if he admitted that it had been a bit harder than he would have liked ahead of the first rest day.
“It was actually really hard,” he said.
“Bora did a really great job and did a really hard pace, I think everyone was full gas.
“I think it was harder than we expected in the morning, but finally we saved the day and we are happy because of that.”
Bernal’s lead in the general classification was chiselled at by Evenepoel courtesy of the mid-stage tear-up, with the gap now standing at 14 seconds.
'Is it really going to come down to seconds?'
Eurosport expert Brian Smith wondered on The Breakaway whether it was an unnecessary from both riders, with still two tough weeks on the menu in Italy.
“There’s still a long way to go in this Giro d’Italia,” he said.
Is it really going to come down to seconds?
‘It was a lot of energy to use’ – Was Bernal v Evenepoel sprint wise?
Narvaez’s attack was also questioned on social media, with some fans pointing out that the Ecuadorian’s charge had actually hindered Bernal.
Had he held back, Evenepoel would have taken three bonus seconds with Bernal earning two – meaning the one-second gap would stay, but the pair's advantage on the rest of the general classification would have grown by a second.
“It looked like a good teammate thing to do from Narvaez but in hindsight it would have been better if it had been Evenepoel first and Bernal second,” added Dan Lloyd.
“But obviously Narvaez didn’t know if there was going to be another QuickStep rider who was going to come past Bernal. He kind have had to do that really.
“It was a lot of energy to use though, wasn’t it?”
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