The nominees for this category included four great individual deeds of the 2021 Giro: Simon Yates claiming stage 19, Affini surging just before the finish in Verona, Damiano Caruso conquering the Alpe Motta and Bernal soloing on the Passo Giau.
And whilst the first three actions took place entirely in front of the cameras, which captured every inch, every pedal stroke and even the twitch of every muscle fibre, the fourth one was virtually invisible – quite an uncommon occurrence in modern cycling. We could not see anything but the last 300 metres before the finish in Cortina.
And guess which has won? You got it right!
Of course, the mere fact that it involved the Maglia Rosa has had a considerable influence. Not to mention the outstanding and remarkable setting of this action – the Dolomites and the Cima Coppi. However, it is hard to escape the idea that maybe what really made this action so captivating is that it happened away from the cameras and out of sight, that we could only hear it narrated by the race commentators, and that we had to wait for the passes at the summit to learn what the time gaps were. That we had to make do with our own imaginations.
It felt like cycling had reverted to being an oral narrative, a black and white movie, a bedtime story. Something intimate and personal.
That, of course, was Bernal’s masterpiece on a rainy and foggy day. Clipping off, alone, halfway up the Giau, he dropped all his rivals and soloed into Cortina nearly 30” ahead of Bardet and Caruso.
An outstanding accomplishment. The best feat of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, to which our imaginations added a certain mystic.