Egan Bernal admitted that team-mate Ivan Sosa was “almost stronger than him” in the final of Gran Piemonte 2019.
Team Ineos were remarkable in their dominance during the final of the Italian one-day race, leading the peloton for the entire final and holding an unmatchable pace to set up their man Bernal.
With 5km to race, it was Colombians Ivan Sosa and Bernal at the front of a select group of climbing talent, but no one could match Sosa when he jumped out of the saddle for one last push.
After emptying himself for Bernal, the 21-year-old recovered enough to steal second place in the final 50 metres, making it a Team Ineos one-two.
Speaking after the stage, 2019 Tour de France winner Bernal said: “I was feeling really good during the race. I asked the guys to do a good tempo.
“Sosa did a really, really good job. I won the race but I think Sosa was almost stronger than me.
“In the final I saw that there were two of us, I tried to go full gas until the finish. Sosa also did a really good job and he’s shown that he is one of the strongest in the peloton on the climbs.”
The pair know each other well, both joining Ineos from Italian Pro Continental outfit Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec.
Sosa has shown himself almost a match for the talent of his compatriot, winning two stages and the overall at the Vuelta a Burgos in August.
However, he has some way to go to equal Bernal, who this summer became the youngest Tour de France winner in the modern era and the first Colombian to take the yellow jersey.
Bernal looks to be one of the favourites ahead of the final Monument of the season, Il Lombardia, this Saturday (October 12).
The 22-year-old said after the Piemonte victory: “I’m really happy. This morning when I woke up I was thinking about doing a good race, but to win is always difficult.
“I’m really happy because it’s my first win in Italy. I’ve been doing a lot of races here and it’s my first success in Piemonte. It’s the region in which I was living for two years, so it’s really special to win here.”