Bernal motivated heading into third week

22 Jul 2019

Bernal motivated heading into third week

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Egan Bernal is ready for the final week of the Tour de France and is keen to help the team in the Alps.

A trio of upcoming mountain stages should suit the climber, with the action playing out at altitude in the days prior to the race’s Paris finish.

Bernal has looked right at home in only his second Grand Tour appearance, moving into a commanding lead in the white young rider jersey.

The Colombian was the only rider able to immediately follow the stinging acceleration of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) on the Prat d’Albis, moving himself deeper into the general classification battle.

With Bernal and teammate Geraint Thomas both in the thick of the top-five battle, Bernal confirmed: “I think that it’s easy when there is very good communication among the team. 

“When that happened G was very honest and he told me that, perhaps, he didn’t have the best feeling and I could have been in front. I also think it’s good for the race and for us as a team. If I’m at the front other riders may hesitate a bit because there is an INEOS rider in front. It’s also a bit strategic, but our main leader is G and we are going to support him.”

Bernal is hoping he can carry his strong form through to the late-race climbs, with the high altitude of the Alps something he hopes will play in his favour.

He added: “I think the Alps are different to the Pyrenees. The climbs are longer and the altitudes will be high, so I hope to feel good and just enjoy the race. We’ll see what happens. We’ve just finished two weeks of hard racing so obviously everyone will feel it in their legs.

“I feel a little bit better this year. Last year I was 21, this year I’m 22 and I think the experience that one gets at this age is greater. So I feel a bit better. The team is taking care of me quite a bit anyway and I arrived with a different mindset. 

“I think the Tour is the most important race, it’s what every young cyclist dreams of – the yellow jersey, arriving in Paris on the Champs-Elysees. It’s the most beautiful race and the most important so I think that it gets noticed. I just want to enjoy it – it’s been my dream to be here so I’m happy.”

Brailsford excited at final week prospect
For Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford the prospect of a final-week shoot-out in the Alps provides an exciting test. With a number of a strong rivals and support teams going head to head, Brailsford is ready for the challenge.

He confirmed: “We’re the only team with two riders high up on the GC and I think you’ve just got to adapt to the situation. I don’t think there’s a single tactic that we think, ‘okay we should deploy that.’ It evolves as the day evolves and it’s minute by minute really. You’ve got to be opportunistic with it. The key thing as we’ve been saying all week is that the communication is good, and the guys communicate with each other, read the situation, and chose the right tactical approach for that given situation. 

"On the one hand we want to put time into Alaphilippe, and on the other hand you still want to race against the guys around on GC as well. It’s interesting to be honest and a nice position to be in quite frankly. It’s a challenging, interesting and pretty good fun situation to be in.

“I think collectively when we come into the next couple of days, and into the high Alps with sustained climbing above 2000 metres – it’s a big challenge. You’re in the third week which is where the real difference is going to be made in this race. We know you can go through ups and downs in this race but ultimately it’s the consistency that tends to pay off, in our experience. It will probably go down to the wire, who knows? It’s exciting!
“It’s fun to be involved in what is one of the most exciting editions of the race for a long time. What makes Grand Tours brilliant is that suspense all the way to the end and not really knowing what’s going to happen.”

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