Bernal's attack from the peloton 500 metres from the end of the stage all the way to the finish line was the most impressive statement of the 2021 Giro d'Italia to date. Bernal also took on the race lead with the attack, leaping over Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Atilla Valter (Groupama-FDJ).
It had been a long time since the Colombian's last win at a WorldTour race, his 2019 Tour de France overall success the most recent time since the 24-year-old saluted at the top level of the sport.
"It has been two very difficult years for me, both mentally and physically after the 2019 Tour, so winning again was very important for me and my team," said Bernal.
"I didn’t actually know that I had won when I crossed the line, I thought there was somebody ahead. But when we got on the dirt roads at the summit, I just went into my own world and concentrated on going as hard as possible. So when I realised I’d won, it was a very emotional moment."
Bernal was humble in victory, heaping praise upon his team following the win. He made a special mention of Jonothan Castroviejo in a post-race champagne celebration at the INEOS hotel, thanking the Spaniard for giving him the confidence to go for the win.
"This morning I wasn’t thinking about winning the stage, it was just about getting time on my rivals in the final," Bernal said. "So on the second last climb, I wasn’t sure about getting the team to work, but the squad decided they wanted to do that.
"On the dirt road section, I didn’t know how good I would be. But as I was in top condition, I was able to get a good gap."
"I was totally concentrated, it was 1.5 kilometres of going all-out. I didn’t look round at anybody to see if I’d dropped them, I just thought to myself, 'this is four minutes at full gas and whatever happens, happens'."
The Colombian came into the race under a cloud of uncertainty about the state of his injured back, which had caused him to retire from the 2020 Tour de France mid-race, and was still hampering him coming into the race. While he hasn't appeared to have had anything holding him back during the racing to date, Bernal was cautious in predicting anything and said he was taking preventive measures to stop any issue flaring up.
"I’m still doing physio, before the stages, and core training as well, then physio in the massage at the end of the day,' said Bernal. 'Everything I can do to be in good condition. But for now, anyway, I just want to enjoy this win and this lead."
The Giro d'Italia continues on SBS tonight with Stage 10, live from 2130 on SBS VICELAND and SBS OnDemand. An hilly finish to the stage could see it go the way of the sprinters or a late attack, and it promises to be yet another exciting finale!