Bernal: ‘I think I won’t go to the Tour’

Egan Bernal says he probably won't race the 2021 Tour de France.

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After spending more than a week atop the general classification of the Giro d’Italia, a resurgent Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) has addressed the topic of his potential participation in this year’s Tour de France.

The 24-year-old Colombian may have shown this month in Italy that he has recovered some of the form that propelled him to a Tour title back in 2019, but he said on Tuesday that he probably won’t be lining up in the hunt for yellow this year.

“I think I won’t go to the Tour,” Bernal said. “Normally, after the Giro, the Tour is really hard and the team have already a really good team for the Tour. I think the guys who are now in the team of the Tour are doing really good preparation. I think they can do really good. So I prefer to just be focused on the second part of the season and maybe ride La Vuelta.”

Bernal’s impressive Giro has allayed concerns about his form after a 2020 season derailed by back issues that have lingered ever since. Although he delivered some strong performances in the run-up to the Italian Grand Tour, he continued to express uncertainty about his back problems. While he apparently is still dealing with those issues, Bernal has offered plenty of evidence at this Giro that he is still plenty capable of contending in a Grand Tour.

Naturally, that has led to questions about whether Bernal could fit into the Ineos Grenadiers Tour lineup, one that is already crowded with talent. That lineup is expected to include former Grand Tour winners Richard Carapaz, Geraint Thomas, and Tao Geoghegan Hart, among other strong GC types.

According to Bernal, he is unlikely to join that squad. Instead, a return to Grand Tour racing seems possible for him at the Vuelta. He may race the Olympics before that, but he will need to evaluate his situation after the Giro before making any final decisions.

“I’m not sure about the Olympics because I’m still having this problem in the back, so I don’t want to squeeze my body too much,” he said. “I just want to finish the Giro and then [see] how my body will recover and then just think about the second part of the season.”

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