Colombia's Egan Bernal wins Giro d'Italia after clinical finish
Ineos-Grenadiers rider puts 2020 Tour de France disappointment behind him
Colombia's Egan Bernal was given a hero's welcome as he won the 2021 Giro d'Italia on Sunday after the 21st stage time-trial.
The Colombian, 24, won two individual stages and finished the course 89 seconds ahead of Italy's Damiano Caruso. Britain's Simon Yates completed the podium.
The last day individual time-trial was won by Bernal's Ineos-Grenadiers teammate Filippo Ganna, who also won the opening day time-trial.
The Giro win marks a return to form for Bernal who failed at the 2020 Tour de France.
Bernal, whose 2020 season was hampered by back problems after he won the 2019 Tour de France, remained cool under pressure and with the help of compatriot Dani Martinez, all but secured the overall win in Saturday's final mountain trek.
“It’s difficult to realise what I’ve done. I have just won a Giro d’Italia. I have no words after what happened in these two years,” said Bernal.
"I was just focused on my effort, thinking I can't do a mistake. I don't want to lose the Giro in one corner," he said.
"I was starting to push in the parts where I could push but in the corners I don't take any risks. I think it was the first time trial I enjoyed. I always suffer in the time trials but today was a special one.
"There were a lot of Colombian flags and all the people cheering for me when I arrived and I realised I had won it was an incredible feeling. I cannot describe what I'm feeing inside of me."
Caruso attacked early in that stage but Bernal kept the gap under control before securing second place on the day with a late push, ensuring himself enough of a cushion to prevent any nasty surprises in the final time trial.
Bernal built his victory in the first two weeks, with a stunning attack on gravel roads to claim his maiden grand tour stage victory in Campo Felice and another dominant ride in Cortina d'Ampezzo. His win was overshadowed by the organisers' decision to shorten the stage due to bad weather.
The second Colombian to win the race after Nairo Quintana in 2014, Bernal can now look to join Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome on the list of riders with titles in all three grand tours.
Next up for Bernal could be the Olympics road race, although he said this week he was not sure if he would be going to Tokyo.
He could then take part in the Vuelta and even if Briton Adam Yates – Simon's twin brother – is the Ineos-Grenadiers' team leader, Bernal could complete a grand-tour treble there.
He could also become the youngest rider to do so. Contador was 25 when he achieved the feat.
Published: May 30, 2021 08:18 PM