As undisputed leader of the powerful Ineos team for the absences of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal he wants to wear yellow again on the Champs Elysees in Paris in front of Primoz Roglic and the fearsome Jumbo outfit.
Bernal entered a new dimension on July 28, 2019, from one day to the next: that of great champions. That Sunday, at the top of the podium mounted on the most exclusive avenue of the French capital, he was the first Colombian and Latin American to win the ‘Grande Boucle’ and the third youngest runner in history to do so.
At just 22 years old, the Zipaquirá rider fully entered the bicycle sport record book. A success that we must ‘thank’, in part, for the fall he suffered in his preparation for the 2019 Giro d’Italia. His clavicle fracture at the beginning of May brought him down from the Italian round and his director, David Brailsford, decided to include him in the Tour call to serve as head of ranks alongside the Welshman Thomas, who defended the title lifted in 2018.
That is the new challenge facing the young Colombian. After reaching the top, Bernal has to stay. And it won’t be easy, given the Slovenian Roglic fortress (2019 Vuelta champion) and his Jumbo, and his own physical condition after withdrawing from the recent Critérium del Dauphiné due to back pain.
“Egan will look again for the yellow jersey in France,” Brailsford recently declared to clear up doubts about the Colombian’s physical condition. But although he is fully recovered, Bernal knows perfectly that his second laurel in the French round will be very long-suffering.
Since the resumption of cycling after the stoppage forced by the coronavirus pandemic, Bernal and Ineos bowed before the yellow train of the Jumbo. At Tour of the Ain, Roglic won the test in addition to two stages (out of three possible). At DauphinéBefore the abandonment of both, the Slovenian was leader with half a minute of advantage over Bernal in just three stages.
Jumbo, a constellation
In the absence of checking the physical condition of Roglic in the race, who fell in the Dauphiné and sowed doubts on Instagram a week ago, the Dutch squad will line up high quality riders such as Tom Dumoulin, Giro 2017 champion, Wout Van Aert, brand new winner of the Milan-San Remo, and George Bennett, who knows what it’s like to top-10 in two grand tours.
The Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk, third in Paris last year, did not enter at the last minute due to his fall in the fourth stage of the Dauphiné. Bernal won’t be alone in his battle against that star lineup. The void of Froome (winner of four editions of the Tour) and Thomas (one) will be filled by the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz, current champion of the Giro d’Italia.
The Carchense will make his debut (the first by an Ecuadorian) in the Tour de France at the age of 27, after winning the pink jersey and changing the Spanish team Movistar for Ineos, as fancy helper of the Colombian. “Egan is the leader for the Tour, I am here to help him. He is the defending champion. We have a very good leader and we are going to support him until the end ”, declared Carapaz about his role on Monday at a virtual press conference.
However, the Ecuadorian already demonstrated in the past Giro 2019 that, if the race situation requires it, he is capable of taking on gallons and ending up taking the final victory. The ‘Locomotive’ had attended the Italian round as a gregarious for the Spanish Mikel Landa.
Your support will be essential for Bernal in a very mountainous edit of the Tour, with up to six high finishes and a single time trial. An a priori route prone to the second Colombian crown.