Yates attacks to win stage 19 as Bernal clings onto Maglia Rosa
Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange won stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia on Friday, reducing the gap in the general classification to leader Egan Bernal, who finished third in the penultimate mountain stage to protect his overall advantage
Yates finished 11 seconds ahead of Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in the 176-kilometre ride from Abbiategrasso to Alpe di Mera while INEOS Grenadiers' Bernal was 28 seconds behind to retain the Maglia Rosa.
Yates launched a solo attack with about 6.5 kilometres to go and left Almeida and Bernal behind to take victory on the climb, giving him an opportunity to finish second in the general classification over the weekend.
"I'm really happy, the team did a great job right from the start of the stage, a fantastic team effort and I'm happy to have finished it off. I really wanted to win a stage in this Giro," Yates said.
"I saw the boys from INEOS happy to ride a tempo from behind, I had a feeling they would let me go today. I read something from Egan on Twitter about how they would be more conservative rather than control and try to go with me.
"I had a feeling they would let me go and as soon as I attacked, I saw that was correct and I tried to ride full gas, and that was it."
Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) finished four seconds behind Bernal but retains second place on the general classification ahead of Yates in third.
Bernal is 2:29 ahead of Caruso and 2:49 ahead of Yates heading into Saturday's stage 20, a 163-kilometre ride from Valle Spluga to Alpe Motta.
"I'm happy with my climb. Of course, Yates was the best today," Bernal said.
"Today felt good and tomorrow, with the altitude, I hope to have the same feelings as today and try to manage the gap that I have with the two guys on the podium. I hope I will be in pink after tomorrow too."
Tomorrow climbers face their last chance to move up in the GC on stage 20. The 164 kilometres race travels over the San Bernardino Pass and Splügen Pass to the steep uphill finish at the Alpe Motta. The elevation gain is 4,200 metres, which is impressive since virtually all vertical metres are situated in the second half of the race.
VIDEO: 2021 Giro d'Italia Stage 19 Highlights
2021 Giro d'Italia Stage 19 Top 10
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange 4:02:55
2 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:11
3 Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:28
4 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:32
5 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:42
7 Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:49
8 Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:01:25
9 Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
2021 Giro d'Italia GC after Stage 19
1 Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 81:13:37
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:02:29
3 Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange 0:02:49
4 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech 0:06:11
5 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo 0:07:10
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM 0:07:32
7 Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:07:42
8 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:08:26
9 Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma 0:10:19
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation 0:13:55