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Going into Tuesday’s final rest day, it sure seems that way.
The Colombian climber tightened his grip on the pink jersey Monday, and now leads second-place Damiano Caruso by 2:24. Everyone else is more than three minutes in arrears.
Yet the “corsa rosa” can deliver up some surprises. Does one of his rivals have one race-breaking attack in their legs? Or will his back hold out for one more week?
VeloNews‘ editors dive in:
Sadhbh O’Shea — Put the champagne on ice
Egan Bernal is sitting pretty in pink at the top of the Giro d’Italia general classification, and it’s going to take an almighty effort to get him out of it.
Of course, a grand tour isn’t over until it’s over, but barring a major crash, Bernal looks as though he’s got the Giro d’Italia title in the bag.
Before the corsa rosa set off from Turin over two weeks ago, the biggest questions hanging over Bernal were how his back would hold up, and whether or not he could regain confidence in himself.
His approach to racing over the last two weeks has shown that he’s got the latter in spades. It takes a calm and confident rider to take a rain jacket off and tuck it away as he rides over slippery cobbles in the wet.
There is still uncertainty around Bernal’s ongoing back problems, but he appears to have it under control at the moment. After his experience in last year’s Tour de France, he came to the Giro d’Italia armed with the knowledge to manage it.
Going into the final week of racing, Bernal has a tidy 2:24 lead over Damiano Caruso in second place, and 3:40 over Hugh Carthy. The gap is sufficient enough that the Colombian only needs to maintain it ahead of the final time trial, rather than extend it – though it’s hard to imagine he’ll sit back if he’s still feeling strong.
It is not an insurmountable lead that he holds, and Chris Froome showed in 2018 that victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat at any time. However, I’m not sure that any of Bernal’s rivals have the capability of doing a Froome in 2021.
Bernal has not shown any signs of weakness so far in this Giro d’Italia and I believe that he can go all the way to Milan in the maglia rosa.
A stage winner in pink. Letting it all sink in ☺️
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) May 24, 2021
Andrew Hood — Don’t count the chickens yet
After watching more than a few grand tours implode in the final week, everyone knows anything can happen in the closing stages at the Giro d’Italia.
Riders like Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali lived for the closing stages to make their move. The cliché that the race ends in Milano rings true. Perhaps no race delivers as many surprise endings as the Giro.
And no one knows that more than Ineos Grenadiers and the last thing the team will want to do is let down its collective guard. The team, in its previous incarnation, sprung one of cycling’s greatest comebacks during the 2018 Giro, when Chris Froome uncorked a solo move with 80km to go to turn the Giro upside down.
Also read: How Froome and Sky blew up the 2018 Giro
Could there be someone lurking in this Giro peloton who could take on the might of Ineos Grenadiers?
There could be. The one rider who just might have the legs and ambition to overturn the Ineos apple cart is Hugh Carthy. The EF Education-Nippo captain has reached the moment of his career where he packs the experience, depth, and racing acumen to try to pull something off in the closing week.
Also read: Hugh Carthy climbing higher
On paper, it’s highly unlikely. And any Carthy miracle would have to come with a Bernal collapse.
Right now, the final-day time trial isn’t a worry for Bernal, but the team will not want to let a strong time trialist like João Almeida, well off the pace at 10 minutes back, get any closer.
And then there’s the other side of the equation. Bernal might have the legs to defend pink all the way to Milano, but he has to make it there, too. His back could give out, an inopportune crash, or illness, and it could be anyone’s Giro.
This Giro isn’t over by a long shot.