Egan Bernal’s stunning performance on Stage 9 at the Giro d’Italia will “take him to the next level”, according to Bradley Wiggins.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider produced a brilliant attack to soar into the maglia rosa on Sunday, opening up a 15-second lead on Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck–QuickStep).
Bernal has been troubled by a persistent back injury for over a year, with his selection for the Giro instead of the Tour de France a sign that he was still on the comeback trail.
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The 24-year-old abandoned the 2020 Tour with back pain and has undergone a lengthy rehab process, but appears to be back in top gear after his explosive climb on the dirt ski-slope ramp on Sunday.
Bernal admitted afterwards that he “can’t believe what is happening” and said his teammates had boosted his confidence.

‘Egan Bernal is blowing up the Giro d’Italia’ – Ineos star soars to Stage 9 win

“You can see the vulnerability even as a Grand Tour champion like Bernal, you can see the insecurity that comes with it,” said Wiggins on The Breakaway.
“They really pushed him and he needed that for himself as well as the team. That win will do him the world of good.
“That [the Tour de France] will seem like a lifetime ago now and you saw the disappointment he had last year with the back injury.
“You can imagine going through all that injury and the doubt about getting back to the level you were at before. Clearly, he is and once he put the hammer down there you could see the aggression he had going towards the line and the consistency he had. That’s going to take him to the next level I think.”

‘Just chipping away’ – How Bernal is getting his tactics spot on in GC battle

Incredibly, despite his win at the Tour in 2019, it was the first time Bernal had won a stage at a Grand Tour.
Ineos are now in a familiar position as they bid to defend the leader’s jersey for the final two weeks.
“Without the stage win, I don’t think he would have taken the jersey with it being the bonuses that gave him the jersey,” said Wiggins.
So, it just shows that from the start the whole game plan for Ineos today was to put their marker down early and Ineos are the masters of doing that.
“One week into the race and they’ve got to defend for two weeks now and I think this is where we see the ‘Sky train’. This is what we get used to now and Egan Bernal has really stepped up today.”

‘Carthy a better shot than Yates’ - Wiggins

Just 55 seconds separate the top nine on GC, with Britain’s Hugh Carthy (EF Education–Nippo) and Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) among those queuing up behind Bernal.
Yates was considered the favourite by many insiders heading into the Giro after his impressive win at the Tour of the Alps, but he is at the back of that nine-man leading group after failing to make an impression in the first week.

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“Yeah [it’s still incredibly close],” said Wiggins.
“We’re still a week away from the crux of this race and the last couple of days, it’s all still to play for.
“Just imagine if it was more gravel because all the time splits came from the gravel. Hugh Carthy is still there, he’s actually looking a better shot now than Simon Yates.
“Everyone is still there and [Vincenzo] Nibali only 35 seconds down. It shows you still just how compact it all is.”
Yates has had two stabs at winning the Giro previously, surrendering the maglia rosa to Chris Froome in 2018 after a dramatic final-week collapse before failing to deliver a year later despite some spicy pre-race talk.
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