Damiano Caruso: Seeing Egan Bernal suffering just like me was good for morale

The second-place rider in the Giro d'Italia matched a struggling Bernal and took back a few seconds on day 17

Damiano Caruso on stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Damiano Caruso said seeing Egan Bernal suffering at the Giro d’Italia was “good for morale.” 

Stage 17 of the 2021 Giro revealed the first cracks in Bernal, as he was dropped by an attacking Simon Yates (BikeExchange) and desperately fought his way to the summit of Sega di Ala to limit time losses.  

Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) has been one of the most unexpected performers of this year’s race, having held onto the podium since stage 11 and now sitting second overall with four stages remaining. 

On stage 17, the 33-year-old found himself in a strong position to gain time as Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) suffered on the double-digit gradients of the final climb, with Caruso riding alongside the maglia rosa for much of the ascent. 

Speaking after the stage Caruso, who sprinted to gain three seconds on Bernal at the finish, said: “Today was one of the hardest stages of this Giro. The last hour and a half was really full gas, especially the last climb, which was super hard, and as I expected, Yates attacked, and he made the difference on the last climb. But I felt good, and even then, I kept my tempo to the finish, and the gap was quite okay and under control.

“Well, I couldn’t follow him, so, in any case, I didn’t have any options left but to keep my tempo. Then when I saw the maglia rosa, Bernal, suffering like me, my morale went up because I realised that it is really hard for all of us at this moment.”

>>> Simon Yates reveals he was chasing the breakaway and didn’t realise Egan Bernal was dropped 

After the tough mountain stage Bernal maintained his race lead, holding a 2-21 advantage to Caruso, and 3-23 to Yates, who gained around a minute with his 3km attack.  

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.