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Ineos Grenadiers staying focused before celebrating Giro d'Italia victory in Milan

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) in the pink jersey with one stage to go in the Giro d'Italia
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) in the pink jersey with one stage to go in the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

An emotional Matteo Tosatto was congratulated by rival Matt White of Team BikeExchange after stage 20 to Alpe Motta but the Ineos Grenadiers directeur sportif refused to celebrate victory in the 2021 Giro d’Italia, insisting the Corsa Rosa will only be won when Egan Bernal completes the 29.4km time trial Milan and crosses the finish line in Piazza Duomo on Sunday afternoon.

Bernal leads Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) by 1:59 and Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) by 3:23. He is the better time trialist and can avoid any risks on the streets of Milan. However, after a tense final two mountain stages, where the Colombian looked weaker than his rivals, Tosatto did not want to know about preparations for post-race celebrations.

“As I always say, the Giro ends in Milan, not before. We need to stay focused with our fingers crossed,” he insisted to Eurosport in Italian, surprising journalist Andrea Berton, who asked if he was being superstitious.  

“No, this is not a one-day race, the tension builds and builds and a lot of people want to have a say on things but I want the team to stay focused for Sunday’s time trial,” Tosatto explained.

“People have been preparing lots of things. I don’t want to start a polemic but I want to be clear: the Giro ends when you cross the finish line in Milan.”

Tosatto is a veteran domestique of the sport, having raced for Fassa Bortolo, QuickStep and Tinkoff in a 20-year career. He was perhaps a surprise choice for a role at Ineos but has emerged as a leading directeur sportif who can combine the team’s hard-nosed pragmatism with Italian passion. He directed Tao Geoghegan Hart to victory in 2020 and this year will surely see Bernal triumph in Milan on Sunday, despite his warnings.

Nobody really knows if or how Bernal’s back problems have affected his Giro d’Italia. He was on form from the start, dispelling most doubts, he gained time on his biggest rivals on key finishes but then faded at the very end, exposing potentially huge weakness only for Ineos to step in, ride like the dominant super team they are and help Bernal hold his nerve and his race lead.

Tosatto called the shots from the lead team car every day. He opted for a defensive, cautious approach in the final few stages, aware that victory could have perhaps slipped from their grasp. He was clearly pleased to have finished stage 20 with Bernal in the maglia rosa with a 1:59 cushion on Caruso.

“You need to be cold blooded and not panic in situations like that. Panicking in a moment like that can cost you victory at the Giro, you can throw everything away by wanting something extra,” Tosatto explained.

“Today was a fast, hard stage, with climbing up to over 2000 metres. I can only compliment the team on how they controlled the race, especially in the last 45km.

“It wasn’t easy to control things because even if the bad weather helped us because nobody likes to descend in the rain before the final climb. Team DSM attacked and then Caruso and Bilbao of Bahrain went after them but we didn't want to take any risks by chasing them and blowing up the team.

Castroviejo was incredible and especially Dani Martinez who did a great job in the finale. Egan was also superb, especially mentally. The Giro finishes in Milan but now we can finish it off in style.”