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Dan Martin finishes fifth on stage 9 of Giro as Bernal takes overall lead

Slovenia’s Matej Mohoric, meanwhile, was taken to hospital after a horror crash on a descent.

File photo of Egan Bernal.
File photo of Egan Bernal.
Image: Alberto Gandolfo

COLOMBIA’S EGAN BERNAL soared into the Giro d’Italia overall lead on Sunday when he accelerated away from his key rivals to win stage nine’s mountaintop showdown.

The Ineos leader and winner of the 2019 Tour de France pulled away from a select group on a gravel ski slope above the clouds with the other overall contenders unable to hold his wheel.

Giulio Ciccone and Alexander Vlasov were second and third, respectively, at seven seconds, while Remo Evenepoel came in a further three seconds later in fourth.

Ireland’s Daniel Martin finished fifth, 10 seconds behind Bernal to leave him in eighth place in the overall classification. 

Nicolas Roche, meanwhile, finished in 68th place on today’s stage. 

The 24-year-old Bernal had been suffering back problems that forced him out of last year’s Tour and limited his competition time since.

“I sacrificed so much to be here,” an emotional Bernal said at the line. “I can’t tell you just how happy I am to be here talking to you now.”

Italy’s Gianni Moscon guided Bernal up the final steep slope beyond the treeline to its highest altitude so far with 9 percent average gradient with sections at 12 percent.

“I hadn’t been planning to win the stage, but my teammates were encouraging me to go for it,” said Bernal, who produced his exhilarating attack 600 meters from home as the finale was contested ‘off piste’, on a gravel track used as a ski slope in winter.

Sunday’s stage featured a spectacular crash on the descent of the Passo Godi at the 35km mark when Matej Mohoric hit a crack in the road, snapping his bike in two and landing on his head after a midair somersault.

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The Slovenian remained conscious but was taken to hospital for x-rays and kept under observation.

© – AFP, 2021, with reporting by Gavin Cooney 

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