Cycling-Bernal destroys his rivals to take Giro d'Italia lead
CAMPO FELICE, Italy (Reuters) - Egan Bernal blew his rivals in the Giro d'Italia as he won Stage 9 with a brutal, gravity-defying effort on the final climb to take the overall lead of the race on Sunday.
The 2019 Tour de France champion achieved impressive acceleration over the last kilometers of a gravel road, defeating Italian Giulio Ciccone and Russian Aleksandr Vlasov, who finished second and third, seven seconds behind.
Belgian junior player Remco Evenepoel, who was back in competition nine months after several injuries in a fall at the Giro di Lombardia, finished fourth, 10 seconds behind the pace.
The Colombian Bernal, who was perfectly positioned in the final by Gianni Moscon, the teammate of Ineos-Grenadiers, raced past the French Geoffrey Bouchard and the Dutch Keen Bouwman in the final and never looked back.
Ciccone was able to follow, but cracked quickly when Bernal flew to an impressive victory when Maglia Rosa owner Attila Valter from Hungary ran away in the background.
"I can't believe what's happening," said a tearful Bernal after his first stage win on a big tour at the end of the 158 km journey from Castel di Sangro. "I didn't expect to be in this position after last year's tour."
Overall, Bernal, who has struggled with back pain since the tour was canceled last year, leads Evenepoel by 15 seconds.
Vlasov is third, 21 seconds behind, and Ciccone, who appears to be the Trek Segafredo team leader as double champion Vincenzo Nibali, continues to fight, another 15 seconds back.
Valter slipped to fifth place, 43 seconds behind.
While the gaps are still small after nine stages, Bernal saw a cut across the rest of the field.
The Slovenian Matej Mohoric fell heavily on the stage about 40 km, turned head over heels during the descent and was hospitalized.
"He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance for radiological diagnostics," said his team from Bahrain Victorious.
"He is being kept under surveillance according to the UCI concussion protocols."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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