Who else could it be but one of cycling’s biggest talents? A climber raised in Zipaquirá, a rider who had struggled with physical issues before entering the Giro, but who eventually dominated the race, taking the leader’s jersey at the end of stage 9 and never letting go of it since then.
Who else could it be but Egan Bernal?
Despite being just 24 years old, he raced as carefully and skilfully as a veteran would have, since the earliest days. Even in the trickiest situations, he would always be at the front. He would always be in the right place. Along the dirt roads of Montalcino, when others were taken by surprise by the gravel, and ended up having to chase the peloton, he was standing safely in second place on Ganna’s wheel.
He took stage wins in Campo Felice and in Cortina, pulling off the most spectacular action of this Giro. He suffered a setback in Sega di Ala, when it almost felt as if Yates could open things up and take a shot at the GC. Nevertheless, he struggled and tried to cut the losses with the help of Martinez, eventually managing to lay the foundations for overall victory.
He controlled the race in the closing ITT in Milan, losing little or no time at all to his rivals. He crossed the finish line with his arms aloft, against the stunning backdrop of the Duomo, taking a well‑deserved overall victory after three perfect weeks of racing.
The most prestigious award, the one as the Best Protagonist Rider of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, goes to the winner of the Corsa Rosa – the toughest, most considerate and, simply, the strongest rider: Egan Bernal.