Giro d'Italia 2021 - Bradley Wiggins: Egan Bernal had the balls to defend against Simon Yates
Sean Kelly and Bradley Wiggins broke down the day's action at the Giro d'Italia on Friday evening on a day when Simon Yates attempted to reel in Egan Bernal. The Colombian retains a near three minute advantage over his Australian challenger, and Wiggins praised his resilience after a difficult few days.
Stage 19 highlights: Yates closes on Bernal to boost pink jersey hopes
“Yates has nothing to lose. He’s sitting down in third position, he’s definitely going to finish on the podium, give it everything, see what he can do, see if he can crack the guys in front of him,” he said.
“Bernal is the one he’ll be hoping will have a bad time and you have to never drop your fighting spirit and keep on working on it.”
Wiggins meanwhile pointed out that Bernal might be feeling reassured after limited the damage done to his lead to just 30 seconds, coming after stages where he had appeared to be struggling more seriously.
Wiggins explained: “I think there must have been a doubt when he did crack and didn’t have a good day.
“He just consolidated and limited his losses really. When you’ve got a three and a half minute lead there’s no need to attack for the sake of it. He used his teammates well and rode from A to B. A 30 second loss is better than leaving your teammates behind and then having the counter attacks to go. He had the balls to let [Damiano] Caruso go, [and Joao] Almeida.
Caruso ‘thinking he could win this Giro’ - Wiggins
“He just let them hover and drift off, and when he went from his teammates he had good legs.”
Kelly observed that Bernal was able to ride within himself without becoming desperate, something which is to his credit given his relative lack of experience, even if he does have a Tour de France win to his name.
“He is a very calm guy in big moments, able to control it, tactically for a young guy is able to work it very well,” he said.
He had confidence in the two teammates and we know they’re really good. Just use them to the last and you take it up yourself.
“To keep it going is a big ask for any rider unless you’re on a super day, I think he just got the calculation right and he finished comfortably enough and I think that’s what he’s working on, not finishing in the red, he doesn’t need to, and thinking of the time trial.”
‘He limited his losses’ – Wiggins salutes Bernal after tough Stage 19
Wiggins and Kelly both wondered if Bernal was struggling with his long standing back problems, and with a long stage ahead, suggested that there could be a painful day’s riding ahead for the Colombian.
“He’ll be a lot more confident now that this isn’t siding,” Wiggins suggested.
The other day was just a blip, so there was a bit of fear, to push the envelope out too far.
“The words were his back’s hanging off. Read into that what you want, maybe that with the cold weather and the rest day, maybe it was stiff, who knows?
“But it didn’t look like that today. But there are rumblings of that.”
Kelly also thought that any back trouble has yet to really show itself on the showings from the Ineos rider this week.
He said: “The signs he was giving, he looked comfortable. But as Brad said, today wasn’t one of those tests with the back problem.
‘Blow to the maglia rosa!’ – Yates keeps Giro alive with two days to go
“If the racing is over on those clumps, a little niggle in the back can get worse. All parts of the body on a long time, can be a bit of a more difficult one for him. There could be a little bit of weakness tomorrow and tomorrow could cause a bit more problems than today.”
With Yates in the ascendancy, Wiggins believes that the Australian’s stoic mentality should stand him in good stead as he looks to push through a potential advantage as the finishing line closes in.
“I don’t think Simon will look into it too much. I think that’s why Simon’s so good, he doesn’t get too carried away and he doesn’t get too carried away with his disappointments,” he said.
“I think he will just exercise a game plan to try and win the Giro. I don’t think he’ll worry himself too much with what Bernal will do . He’s not an overthinker. They’ll just have a go as they did today.”
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