Colombian cyclist Egan Bernal is only separated by the final Sunday time trial from the triumph on Giro d’Italia.
Damiano Caruso won the penultimate 20th stage after the start at the end and scored a premiere triumph, but Bernal stopped the attack on the pink jersey. The race leader is 24 seconds behind his nearest rival by 24 seconds ahead of him in the overall standings.
The Czech cyclist Jan Hirt showed an excellent performance in the last challenging mountain stage, in which the peloton had to overcome three difficult peaks, and recorded the best position this year. In 11th place, he lost 2:23 minutes to the winner.
In the overall standings, he has moved to 26th place and is attacking his second best overall result at Grand Tours. He was twelfth in his debut at Giru 2017.
Thirty-three-year-old Caruso attacked Alpe Motta in the front group in the final climb. But Bernal was again able to count on the support of his Ineos teammate Daniel Martínez.
“It was difficult, especially when Caruso left. But together with my colleagues we managed it well and we kept the loss within acceptable limits,” said Bernal, who can win his second Grand Tour title after last year’s Tour de France triumph.
The Colombian admitted that he was afraid for a while that he would not lose too much in bad weather.
“When I drove in front (Caruso) for 30 or 40 seconds, even though I felt good, I was afraid I might have a crisis. It would be easy to lose a minute and a half and then I would have to fight a lot in the time trial,” he said. “About a two-minute lead, that’s a good position,” he added to the outlook for Sunday’s time trial.
As expected, Caruso should be better off, beating Bernal by seven seconds in the opening Gira time trial at 8.5 km in Turin. On Sunday, 30.3 kilometers of cyclists await cyclists in Milan.
Simon Yates, who dominated Friday’s mountain stage, can also try to attack from third place. However, the British winner of the Vuelta from 2018 was not enough for the opponent today and in the sixth place he lost another 51 seconds.
Giro d’Italia cycling race – 20th stage Verbania – Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta (164 km):
1. Caruso (It./Bahrain Victorious) 4:27:53, 2. Bernal (Kol./Ineos Grenadiers) -24, 3. Martínez (Kol./Ineos Grenadiers), 4. Bardet (Fr./DSM) oba -35, 5. Almeida (Portug./Deceuninck-Quick-Step) -41, 6. S. Yates (Brit./BikeExchange) -51, 7. Vlasov (Rus./Astana-Premier Tech) -1: 13, 8. Carthy (Brit./EF Education-Nippo) -1: 29, 9. Fortunato (It./EOLO-Kometa) -2: 07, 10. Pedrero (Šp. / Movistar), 11. Hirt (CZ / Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) both -2: 23.
Running order: 1. Bernal 85:41:47, 2. Caruso -1:59, 3. S. Yates -3:23, 4. Vlasov -7:07, 5. Bardet -7:48, 6. Martínez -7:56, 7. Carthy -8:22, 8. Almeida -8:50, 9. Foss (Nor./Jumbo-Visma) -12:39, 10. D. Martin (Ir./Israel Start-Up Nation) -16:48, …26. Hirt -1:31:13.