At Egan Bernal the new wonder of cycling in the world is told. In his team they signal him as the man who will win the big three: Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Also the leader, Chris Froome, four times winner of the Tour, has warned that he will win more than him, but the 22-year-old Colombian cyclist does not pressure himself, as he is praised, however, makes his career, puts his head in the mud and works to be a good cyclist and get ready in the best way.
He will go to the Giro d'Italia as leader of the squadron and will feel he has no responsibility to win it, which is only 22 years old and that what they want in the best team in the world is that they become a little short, carrying out a process.
Bernal speaks clearly, openly, moves his hands when he resumes the interview, looks into his eyes and confidently expresses his clear ideas. Sometimes he gives the impression of not believing everything that talks about him. He said it is better to go calm, trying to improve every day, even if he hopes to win the big three, he would like to get the first place in the Tour standings. TIME spoke with him.
Your technicians and teammates say you can win the three big races, Giro, Tour and Vuelta, what do you think?
Do not pay much attention to this. I try to be focused and the facts are the most important. At the moment I am a good rider, so far I have done a Tour de France, but I have not fought for any general, so it is difficult to say that I will win them. You must be realistic.
Froome said that you can earn more than him, what do you analyze?
I did not know what he said, but it's nice, it's nice to hear it, because he's a serious, serious runner who has won a lot. I try to be calm with those words. It is an honor that he speaks to me so well, but he sees it in the future, he does not see that at 22 he can win everything he has won. You must have your feet on the ground. Little by little, we will learn and in the future we will be able to go more strongly for a Tour.
Do not you think what they say about you?
I'm pretty confident, but I also understand that I'm 22 and that's it, you have to be realistic. It's nice to be a dreamer, to think about the future, this kind of thing is fine, to say I'd like to do this and that, but I'm young and people speak well of me, but again, I'm 22 years old. I know that my work group speaks well and trusts me, but they know I am young.
Is it a responsibility to say it?
Not at all For my part, I try to be calm, to enjoy it. It's my job, it's what I like and I have no pressure. What I do is have fun cycling. If I put pressure on, it's foolish of me, because I do not know if I'll do it or not. I try to train well, eat well, be judicious, do things well and time will tell how far I will go. I think I will be a good cyclist, if I do, then I will be calm. I can help someone else to win a race like the one I did on the Tour, that's fine with me.
But she is thrilled to win the three …
All runners are excited to win the big three.
Also claim that he will be the first Colombian to win the Tour …
I do not know It's hard to say today.
In his first season in the World Tour, he gave more than expected?
I did not expect what I did. I did not expect the team to give me the opportunity to be so far ahead of the races. The sky has many riders who can be leaders and start driving the Tour Down Under as a leader, in Colombia Oro y Paz I shared the leadership with Sergio Henao, then in Vuelta a Catalunya, then I went to Romandy, but for career situations I ended up being the boss Then I went to California as a leader, it was something I did not expect and less for the races. I was going to help him win the team and things have changed along the way.
In your team they changed the idea with you this year, they gave you more responsibility, how do you think?
I try to be calm. I will be my first great as a leader and the team knows it. Speaking with team managers, what they want is that they learn to be the group's leaders in a big one. I have no responsibility to go and win the Giro when there are cyclists like Tom Dumoulin, Vincenzo Nibali, who give me peace of mind. When a broker announces that he will go to the Giro, it's a peace for me, because I know there are others who have this responsibility to win, to go into the race. I, little by little, go without pressure, and I can do something.
The Colombian cyclist wins early, Nairo Quintana, Miguel López, they did it before the age of 25, could the same be true with you?
They can not compare Esteban Chaves with Nairo, nor with Rigoberto Urán. See how Urán made the podium in the Tour, so the subject is very complicated.
What do they expect from Egan Bernal at the Giro?
I am aware that if I go to the Giro and in the second week I get beaten and I lose the general, because they know that I am 22 years old, that to waste time in the second week I will not make a good cyclist. It's like having a balance.
Is not the sky leader in the Giro to be the champion?
People believe they have the illusion of going to the Giro. It will be the first time they will see me as a leader in a three-week race and this must be understood, but we must know that there are other strong riders and teams and this is the Giro d'Italia, not just a race.
And there are 58 kilometers at the clock …
Yes, it's another thing that needs to be seen. There are many kilometers to the clock, I'm not 22 and much to be improved, to learn. He usually reaches his maturity point at 27 or 28 and I have margin. I have to learn from every race, take the positive for when I will have that age, I can have a good experience in the bank to go and fight for a good Tour.
So, what is your goal in Italy?
I go as a leader, but I want, of course, to be a general. I'm not thinking of making a top 15, 10, 5 or win it, I'll just enjoy it and have a good race. I do not know what a good race is, if it is within five, winning it or finishing last. I will arrive at the Giro and I will do it well, but I do not want to say that I will go for a place within five and if I remain in sixth place, they will say that I have not respected. This also includes me.
What did the tour leave last year?
A lot of things You learn a lot It's the most stressful race I've been in. Win or lose for a short time and you must always be vigilant. You must always be ahead, this is the philosophy of Sky.
What details did the team impress you?
Sometimes you say it's a lot, they treat you like a princess, but in the end this makes the difference. The Tour is won for one or two seconds and those little details help everything, the next day you are better for a good recovery, to get up with the best spirit, which, in 21 days, makes the difference.
What excites you to win, Giro, Tour or Vuelta?
The Tour is the most important, has more repercussions on the media and in the Sky the Tour is a good goal.
What will be the road to the Giro?
I will do Paris-Nice, Tour of Catalonia, but it is not at all secure. Let's take a look step by step. I end the Tour Colombia and if I do not feel well, then I do not do Paris-Nice. The best thing is to go step by step, do not take such rigid steps.
How does the chronograph work to minimize losses with specialists?
Train on the chronograph bike, train for hours and hours. In the end, this comes with maturation, because at 28, one is more mature. Making a time trial is not just getting on the bike and watching the watts, there are many things: pressure, cutting curves that can make all the difference. Losing one second per kilometer can represent a lot of time in a 35 km stage at the clock, so …
What do you expect from Tuesday's team time trial at the Colombia Tour?
It will mark the differences, but not as much as expected. I would mark a lot more with the chrono bicycles, with the material, but there will be differences.
Is the Colombia Tour a race in which the favorites are the Colombians who are part of the World Tour teams?
If we remove the watch from the teams, I think we are in equal conditions with the locals, because we have a bigger difference. But we have the disadvantage of having runners at sea level and suffering at 2,600 meters, it will cost them.
Special envoy to Medellín
On Twitter: @lisandroabel