Egan Bernal: 'I didn't plan to go for the intermediate sprint'

Remco Evenepoel only managed to take one second from the race leader after a frantic intermediate sprint for bonus seconds

Egan Bernal and Remco Evenepoel after the intermediate sprint on stage nine of Giro d'Italia 2021
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Egan Bernal finished the first week in the pink jersey after a very fast-paced 10th stage of the Giro d'Italia 2021, albeit with one second less of a buffer over second place.

Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) looked to be comfortably within in the peloton as Bora-Hansgrohe ripped the race to shreds on the final two climbs of the day for the eventual stage winner, Peter Sagan.

But the final intermediate sprint, which gives out three, two, and one bonus seconds threw a potential spanner in the works for the British team as Deceuninck - Quick-Step came up en masse to lead out Remco Evenepoel to take back some time on Bernal.

Ineos crowded Evenepoel with Filippo Ganna coming to the front with Bernal on his wheel and Gianni Moscon along with Jhonatan Narváez on Evenepoel's wheel. But when Ganna swung off, Evenepoel continued his effort with no-one but Narváez able to come round.

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After the stage, Bernal said: "I didn't plan to go for the intermediate sprint. I just saw the opportunity to go behind Remco. I only took one second but it didn't take me any effort. 

"We're here also to enjoy the race and this was a nice way to do so. It was actually a harder stage than we thought it would be this morning. Bora did a great job. Tomorrow I'll train during the rest day and I'll prepare for the very important stage coming up on Wednesday."

Evenepoel now sits 14 seconds down on the 2019 Tour de France champion going into the first rest day of the race with a stage that takes in more than 30km of gravel roads from Perugia to Montalcino over 162km.

In a post-stage TV interview, Bernal said on stage 10's intermediate sprint: "I was just following Pippo [Filippo Ganna]. I saw an opportunity and I just went behind him. Finally, if you're going behind him it's easier."