Egan Bernal (Team Sky) confirmed his huge potential yet again at Il Lombardia with a brilliant move across to the break on the descent or the Sormano. However, the difficulties of the final 50km of racing showed that not even the most promising talent in the peloton can compete for victory after two months out of action due to injury.
Bernal crashed hard at the Clasica San Sebastian in early August and needed nose and mouth surgery. He made a comeback at the Giro dell’Emilia last Saturday but was not expected to have an impact at the far tougher Il Lombardia. But when team leader Gianni Moscon suffered a puncture on the descent of the Colma di Sormano, Bernal stepped up and dived down the descent and across to Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nibali and Pinot.
It would be the winning move of the race, but Bernal eventually paid the price for his solo effort and was distanced on the lower slopes of the Civiglio climb. He finished 12th, 1:31 behind Pinot but only one place behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and ahead of Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac).
He had the courage to take on the race but just not the legs to finish it off.
“I’m happy because I went two months without racing and I only began racing again one week ago,” Bernal said at the finish area before heading to the Team Sky for a final post-race shower of the season. "I wanted to do a good result here and I finished 12th. That’s not great, but I need to be happy as it’s normal that I needed time to recover after the crash. Now I’m happy and motivated for next season.
“On the second part of the Muro di Sormano, the race kicked off," he said. "I was suffering and didn’t really have the legs. I focused on getting across to the first group on the descent because I knew on the last climb I wouldn’t be with them. So I preferred to make a fast descent, but without taking risks. I was always under control. I was able to re-join the leaders, which was really nice.”