Saitama (Japan) (AFP)
Propelled to the rank of national hero, Egan Bernal (Ineos), became this summer the first Colombian rider to win the Tour de France, ensures not to feel any pressure: neither facing the course of the Tour in 2020, nor facing his new status in the pack.
"I do not feel any pressure when I'm getting ready for a big race, at least for the moment, I'm 22. Before the Tour, I was told that I did not have to win the Tour right now, that I 'was only 22 years old,' recalls the youngest winner of the post-war race, met on Sunday in Japan, where he participates in Critérium de Saitama.
One way for Bernal to emphasize that his final victory on the Champs-Elysées does not change his youth and that it should not exacerbate the expectations placed in him.
"I have already won the Tour de France, and even if I do not win the Tour again, I will be able to tell my children that I have put my name on the list so I do not feel any pressure, I just want to enjoy, be a good runner, "evacuates the Colombian.
After casting doubt on his presence in France next July, during the presentation of the 2020 course two weeks ago, he explains not wanting to become obsessed with the Great Loop.
"I do not want to be a rider focused only on the Tour de France, I have respect for other races, such as Italian, which I like", shows the nugget of Ineos who won the Tour this autumn from Piedmont and ranked 3rd in the Lombardy Tour, the last Monument of the Year.
The course of the Tour of 2020, saving in kilometers of time trial - only 36 of which 6 km of ascent of the Planche des Belles Daughters-- seems more favorable to the climbers than to the riders but inspires him of prudence.
"I do not know if this is the ideal route for climbers, that's what we hear, it's perfect for climbers, but at first glance, it's a good course. to a good climber, "he corrects. Before adding: "We must study it."
- Nairo her hero -
In his ascent to the elite of the pack, he explained his model fellow Nairo Quintana, twice 2nd in the Tour de France (2013, 2015) and crowned on the Giro 2014 and the Vuelta 2016.
"He is a runner that I like a lot, a very strong climber, who always gives everything, even if he is not at his best, as we have seen on the Tour de France or Tour de France. Spain this year: he explained that he did not feel very well, that he had been sick and had a fever, but he was up front every day, fighting, trying to to escape, "pays homage to his younger brother.
Bernal divides his time between Colombia, where he tries to spend time with family and enjoys the altitude to train, and Europe, where he lives and where the biggest races of the calendar take place.
"It's not a problem for me to be on the bike for six or seven hours, I love to train, and when I'm at home, I try to share time with my mom, my brother and my father, "says the climber of Zipaquira (central Colombia), a supporter of preparation in his usual environment rather than training camps.
"Normally, I do not do internships to train, I prefer to train at home, Colombia or Andorra when I lived there.I may do one next year.I do not know no, if I want to improve something, it's also good to spend time with his teammates, I can learn from them, "says Bernal.
With Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, the Colombian meets two other winners of the Tour in his formation Ineos. An all-star team that will join again in 2020 the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz, crowned on the last Tour of Italy.
© 2019 AFP