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GIRO’21 Stage 20: Grand Caruso Attacks for the Stage, Bernal Safe in Pink

Stunning Caruso, Bernal in the pink

Giro d’Italia Stage 20: With a very brave attack, second overall Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) won stage 20, the last mountain stage of the 2021 Giro d’Italia. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) finished second on the stage to guarantee his final overall win, barring accidents, after Sunday’s time trial.

Bold move by Damiano Caruso

Damiano Caruso won Stage 20 of the 104th Giro d’Italia, 164km from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta. Egan Bernal and Daniel Felipe Martinez finished second and third, respectively. Bernal retains the Maglia Rosa and leads the general classification going into the final time trial.

The starting town of Verbania, also the home town of Filippo Ganna. He greets his dog after more than 3 weeks of absence

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Giro stage 20 route: A colossal Alpine stage, crossing over to Switzerland. After the start, the route passes the Swiss border to negotiate the never-ending San Bernardino Pass (24 km), clearing the summit above 2,000 metres. After the descent, the riders will rise again to over 2,000 metres, to negotiate the Splügen Pass. A technical descent (passing through a few tunnels and an avalanche gallery) will lead all the way to the foot of the closing climb in Campodolcino. The ramps are steep over the last 7 km. Past Campodolcino, the route ascends in hairpins, through a number of tunnels, up to Pianazzo, travelling the old, narrow road to Madesimo, with punishing gradients. After a relatively flat stretch in Madesimo, the route rises again with gradients nearing 10% over the last kilometres. The home straight is on tarmac road and on a slight incline.

Nice start of the day for Qhubeka Assos

From the start of the stage many riders tried to slip into the early break. For Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and Simon Yates (BikeExchange), it would be tactically a good move to have a rider up front, but they failed. After 30 kilometres nine riders managed to escape the peloton.

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What can Simon Yates do today?

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Over 2 minutes in hand for Egan Bernal, is it enough?

Dries De Bondt, Louis Vervaeke, Taco van der Hoorn, Simon Pellaud, Giovanni Visconti, Felix Grosschartner, Vincenzo Albanese, Nico Denz and Matteo Jorgenson completed the break of the day. In the flat run-up to the Passo San Girardino, they managed to take a gap of 5 minutes. Surprisingly, Trek-Segafredo took charge of the chase. Did they have plans for Bauke Mollema and Vincenzo Nibali?

Maglia Rosa – Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers), Maglia Ciclamino – Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe), Maglia Azzurra – Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën), Maglia Bianca – Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers), worn by Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech)

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The last mountains from Verbania and into Switzerland

The early escape exploded on the Passo San Girardino. For Vervaeke and Grosschartner it was too slow at the foot of the climb, and they decided to attack together, they were joined by Albanese, Pellaud and Visconti. With a lead of just 1 minute, they crossed the top of the Cat 1 climb. It wasn’t only Trek-Segafredo who were responsible for the time loss, but also BikeExchange and DSM. Something was going to happen in the last 60 kilometres.

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The peloton on the sores of Lake Maggiore

On the descent Chris Hamilton, Michael Storer and Romain Bardet (all DSM) split from the peloton in pursuit of the leaders, followed by Pello Bilbao and Caruso. When the lead was at 20 seconds on the peloton, Caruso, Bardet and Co. caught the leaders.

Giovanni Visconti (Bardiani CSF Faizanè) made it into the break

On the way to the Splügen Pass, Storer, Hamilton and Bilbao worked hard for their leaders to get them to the climb in the best time and as fresh as possible. There was no reason to panic for Bernal and Yates for the time being as Caruso only had 20 seconds.

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It didn’t take long for the break to a get a gap, but it was never a big one

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The break on the way to Switzerland

Thanks to the work of Vervaeke, who was then dropped, the lead on the penultimate climb grew to 50 seconds. The four remaining leaders started the 20 kilometre descent to Alpe Motta. In the peloton Aleksandr Vlasov couldn’t stop himself on the descent and with an attack, the Astana-Premier Tech rider had a 10 second lead and split the favourites group apart. INEOS Grenadiers quickly brought the Russian back and continued to chase the GC riders at the front.


Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) was the best placed rider in the break at 55:31

Thanks to Jonathan Castroviejo on the descent and Daniel Felipe Martinez on the final climb, the lead of Caruso and Bardet didn’t grow. After Storer and Bilbao had done all they could and Bardet and Caruso had to do it all by themselves, the lead started to shrink again.

BikeExchange on the front

DSM setting it up for the finalé

In the final kilometres it was clear that Bernal’s pink jersey was never really in danger. Caruso and Bardet could only fight for the stage victory with 20 seconds in hand with 2 kilometres to go.

DSM made the break with Bardet and Caruso

Bilbao rode hard for Caruso

Because of Martinez’s fast pace, no one could attack from the chase group. Yates and Almeida couldn’t hang on to Martinez and Bernal a kilometre from the top.

Jonathan Castroviejo another day’s work for Egan Bernal

Bardet cracked

At the front, Caruso was giving it all he had. After he dropped Bardet, his lead grew again over the two Colombians. He crowned his second overall place with a fine stage victory in Alpe Motta. Bernal and Martinez came in about half a minute after the Italian .

Eventually Caruso went solo on the final climb

Egan Bernal had perfect team support and was always in control

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious): “I thought about a thousand things in the last meters before the finish line, all my sacrifices, my training, and all the work done by my teammates. We rode in an exemplary way today, Pello Bilbao in particular did an incredible job and he played a fundamental role in this victory. Today I realised a dream, I think I am the happiest man in the world!”

Stage win for Caruso, but not enough time to change the overall

Maglia Rosa and 2nd on the stage, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers): “Today we rode very well as a team, we controlled the race in the best possible way. My teammates did a super job, a special thanks to Jonathan Castroviejo. I had good legs and I knew I had teammates around me but when Caruso attacked, with his advantage increasing, I admit I was worried. Now I am confident for tomorrow’s last stage, I have a two minute lead in the GC and I will give everything in the time trial.”


Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Result:
1. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious in 4:27:53
2. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:24
3. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:35
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM
5. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:41
6. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 0:51
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 1:13
8. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 1:29
9. Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) eolo-Kometa at 2:07
10. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 2:23
11. Jan Hirt (Cze) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
12. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma at 2:37
13. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
14. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation at 3:10
15. George Bennett (NZ) Jumbo-Visma at 3:42
16. Vadim Pronskiy (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
17. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 4:08
18. Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar at 4:10
19. Harold Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana-Premier Tech at 4:44
20. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 5:29
21. Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) BikeExchange at 6:01
22. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 6:25
23. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar at 6:41
24. Michael Storer (Aus) DSM at 6:46
25. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ at 6:50.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 20:
1. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers in 85:41:47
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 1:59
3. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 3:23
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 7:07
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM at 7:48
6. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 7:56
7. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 8:22
8. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 8:50
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma at 12:39
10. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation at 16:48
11. George Bennett (NZ) Jumbo-Visma at 24:55
12. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 31:04
13. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 36:11
14. Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) eolo-Kometa at 44:09
15. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ at 44:51
16. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 47:24
17. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 57:02
18. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 1:03:27
19. Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 1:03:29
20. Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech at 1:03:54
21. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 1:05:25
22. Tanel Kangert (Est) BikeExchange at 1:05:57
23. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:18:12
24. Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) BikeExchange at 1:18:20
25. Gianni Moscon (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:19:26.

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