Race leader Egan Bernal kept a cool head in the stage 21 time trial to win the 2021 Giro d’Italia by a comfortable margin, adding a second Grand Tour title to his career palmares.
The 2019 Tour de France champion finished 24th in Milan, 1:53 down on his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Filippo Ganna. Going into the time trial, Bernal carried an advantage of 1:59 over nearest rival Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) and after a calm time trial effort, he gave away just 30 seconds to win the Giro d’Italia by 1:29.
“I was just, you know, focused on my effort and I was just thinking I can’t [make] a mistake, I don’t want to lose the Giro in one corner,” Bernal said after stage 21. “It’s the first time trial, actually, that I enjoyed. Today was a special one with my coach in the radio.”
Though the Colombian rider started off his career in Italy, he’d never raced the Giro d’Italia before this year, so the finish in Milan was a big moment for the 24-year-old, particularly after what had been a very challenging past several months. Bernal struggled with back issues at last year’s Tour, abandoning the race instead of defending his overall title. He spent the offseason focused on recovery, and was still uncertain of how well his back would hold up heading into this Giro.
On Sunday, after three weeks of racing, he stood atop the final podium of a Grand Tour again.
“I was looking at a lot of Colombian flags everywhere and all the people cheering for me,” said Bernal. “So when I arrived and I realized I won, it was an incredible feeling. I can’t describe what I am feeling inside of me.”