Sir Dave Brailsford says Ineos planned to attack from the first gravel sector at Giro d’Italia 2021

‘The goal was Filippo goes into the first section first and just puts the hammer down’

Egan Bernal extends his lead in the Giro d'Italia 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sir Dave Brailsford said Ineos Grenadiers planned to attack from the first gravel sector for Egan Bernal on stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia. 

Team principal Brailsford said the aggressive style of racing Ineos showed on the unpaved roads is part of the new philosophy for the team, as Bernal hoped to extend his lead in the maglia rosa battle  

Speaking after the finish, Brailsford said: “[Bernal] is showing why everyone got so excited about him a couple of years ago.

“He had a little bit of a difficult time after that, but he’s come back and he’s shown when you’ve got that much class as a rider, you have your ups and downs, but you never lose it

“He’s worked really hard and sacrificed a lot over the last 12 months.

“He deserves this.” 

But Brailsford said Bernal’s success in Italy, where he leads overall by 45 seconds over Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), is built on the team’s willingness to race hard. 

Ineos took on the race on the first gravel sector, splitting the peloton and distancing their nearest rival Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step). 

Filippo Ganna pushed hard on the unpaved roads to try and increase the gap to their rivals, but the race came back together on the tarmac. 

Then into the closing stages Bernal was able to follow an attack from Vlasov and then countered to extend his advantage even further. 

Meanwhile Evenepoel struggled after a relentless day of racing and was dropped from the group of favourites, losing two minutes on GC by the finish. 

Brailsford said: “The goal was Filippo goes into the first section first and just puts the hammer down. He did it beautifully. The rest of the guys built the performance on top of that step by step. Egan finished it off capably.

“We’ve changed our philosophy a little bit and rather than defensively we try to ride off the front. We’ve got the guys to do it and they’re up for it, they enjoy it, they enjoy bike racing.

“We give them a bit of freedom and a bit of opportunity and they’ve got the joy of racing.

“We’re being more aggressive and it’s enjoyable. We’re having fun. We’re racing much more openly now and we’re seeing the benefits from it.”

>>> Bernal tears up the GC, while Evenepoel dropped after brutal day - don't miss these moments 

Despite their new approach, Ineos continue to dominate in stage races, having won the Giro’s opening TT with Filippo Ganna, while Bernal won his first Grand Tour stage and moved into the race lead last weekend.  

Speaking after the finish of stage 11, Bernal said: “Today was a really hard day and with the gravel we expected some big gaps. 

“There were a lot of GC riders that lost some time so I’m happy to arrive in the front and we need to stay focused in the next days.”