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Bernal takes Giro lead into final day, Caruso wins Stage 20

Egan Bernal looks set to add the Giro d’Italia title to his Tour de France win after maintaining a significant lead at the end of the penultimate stage, which was won by Italian rider Damiano Caruso on Saturday.

It was a first-ever victory in a Grand Tour for Caruso, who also all but secured second place overall, and it came on one of the most difficult stages. Stage 20 had been given the maximum difficulty rating of five stars.

The 164-kilometer (102-mile) route from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta featured more than 4,200 meters of vertical gain and three top-category climbs, including the final ascent to another summit finish, where Caruso soloed to victory.

Italy's Damiano Caruso, followed by France's Romain Bardet, pedals on his way to win the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Verbania to Alpe Motta, Italy, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

The Bahrain Victorious rider shook his head in disbelief as he rounded the final corner before zipping up his top and raising his hands across his head as he crossed the line.

Bernal finished 24 seconds behind and has an overall lead of 1 minute, 59 seconds over Caruso heading into the final day’s time trial in Milan on Sunday. Bernal is 3:23 ahead of third-place Simon Yates.

Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France winner, was helped heavily throughout the stage by Ineos Grenadiers teammate Daniel Martinez, who finished the stage in third, 35 seconds behind Caruso.

Cyclists pedal during the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Verbania to Alpe Motta, Italy, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

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Cyclists pedal during the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Verbania to Alpe Motta, Italy, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

Cyclists pedal during the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Verbania to Alpe Motta, Italy, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

Cyclists pedal during the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Verbania to Alpe Motta, Italy, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

Race leader Egan Bernal talks to his girlfriend Maria Fernanda Motas prior to the start of the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Verbania to Alpe Motta, Italy, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Massimo PaoloneLaPresse via AP)

Race leader Egan Bernal waves to photographers prior to the start of the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Verbania to Alpe Motta, Italy, Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Gian Mattia D'AlbertoLaPresse via AP)