Egan Bernal has said that he wants to go on the attack in the final week of the Vuelta a España 2021 and that he has "nothing to lose".
The former Tour de France and Giro d'Italia winner has looked undercooked throughout this year's Vuelta and currently sits in seventh overall at 4-21 behind overall leader, Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and under two minutes to Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) who sits in third.
Speaking after the stage, Bernal said he is ready to go all or nothing in the final week of the race, which contains three summit finishes including two back to back on stages 17 and 18.
"I think the rest [day] was welcome, we needed it, and this stage was good to get the legs going again," Bernal said.
"I would like [to attack Roglič]. I have nothing to lose, I don't care to be fifth or 10th in the overall, but you need to have legs.
"In the Giro I was attacking from afar even as the leader, which shouldn't be done, but I felt strong and I like to ride like that. Let's see how I feel, if I feel good I'll move. We have a very strong team."
Bernal isn't the only Ineos Grenadiers rider in the top 10 of the general classification as British rider Adam Yates is in eighth place just behind Bernal with him at 4-34 back from Eiking. The British rider made his intent clear on stage 15 before the rest day, when he gained around 15 seconds on the other GC contenders with a late attack.
"Yates is also very well, I see him very strong," Bernal said. "The problem is that we have lost two riders.
"Pavel [Sivakov], Dylan [van Baarle] and [Salvatore] Puccio are doing a very good job to carry us, I don't know if they are going to be at their best tomorrow. But let's try it."
Bernal and his Ineos team-mates have their first chance to take time back on stage 17 where the race heads for a summit finish up to the famous climb of the Lagos de Covadonga. That comes after two ascents of the Collada Llomena climb, with the second accent having bonus seconds of three, two, and one at the top.
The next day the riders face a similar mountainous profile, with a summit finish to Altu d’El Gamoniteiru one of the few remaining opportunities for the likes of Bernal to take time on Roglič ahead of the race's final time trial on Sunday.
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