Favorite to his own succession on the Tour de France, Egan Bernal is measured for the first time by the firepower of the Jumbo team of Primoz Roglic from Friday on the Tour de l'Ain, almost three weeks before the start of the Grande Boucle (August 29-September 20).
The Route d'Occitanie mastered with an honest margin over his future rival of the Tour, Thibaut Pinot (maintained at more than 30 seconds), Egan Bernal is already doing this in Ain where the competition promises to be more intense with the resumption of the leaders of the Jumbo team who concluded the month of July with a three-week internship in Tignes.
Crowned in the 2019 Vuelta and world No.1, Primoz Roglic will compete in his recovery race, he who only competed in the 2020 Slovenian championships - summed up in a duel with the gifted Tadej Pogacar.
The Slovenian, announced as one of Egan Bernal's main challengers, will be able to count on the Grande Boucle - and from the Tour de l'Ain - on a team capable of competing with the Ineos armada (ex-Sky). A first since the start of the Sky era in 2012.
In addition to the Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk, on the podium of the Tour 2019, Jumbo has counted since this year his compatriot Tom Dumoulin, winner of the Giro 2017 and 2nd in the Grande Boucle in 2018 but remained more than 400 days without running, the fault of an injury left knee.
"If we have a result on the Tour de l'Ain, so much the better. But the objective is not to be 100% here and 95% on the Tour de France, warned the sports director Grischa Niermann, questioned by AFP. The goal is not to beat Ineos on the Tour de l'Ain. "
- Watch out for Quintana -
In its match announced against Jumbo this weekend, the British team records the return of Geraint Thomas. The Welshman, who still dreams of a second yellow jersey in Paris after 2018, is not decided to step aside without a fight against the Colombian prodigy. He said he was convinced in a documentary that the BBC had devoted to him and entitled "The Road will decide" that he would have won the Tour 2019 without the interruption of the 19th stage.
But in addition to his teammate, Bernal will also have to keep an eye on his compatriot Nairo Quintana, ranked 8th in the Mont Ventoux vertical drop Challenge for his resumption on Thursday before moving on to the Tour de l'Ain.
Transfigured since he left Movistar for the French team Arkéa-Samsic - nonetheless 2nd in the world - the first South American to win the Giro (in 2014) was the man of winter by collecting success: Tour de la Provence, Tour des Alpes-Maritimes and du Var then the queen stage of Paris-Nice.
The cut, due to the health crisis, then his accident in training at the beginning of July in Colombia, where he was run over by a car, will they have cut off his momentum? Answer Sunday for him, as for Bernal at the end of the decisive stage with his triptych ascent of the Selle de Fromentel, col de la Biche and Grand Colombier, identical to the 15 stage of the Tour de France in a little more than one month.
Friday: 1st stage Montreal-La-Cluse - Ceyzériat, 140 km
Saturday: 2nd stage Lagnieu - Lélex Monts-Jura, 141 km
Sunday: 3rd stage Saint-Vulbas - Grand Colombier, 145 km
© 2020 AFP