Egan Bernal has had an excellent season so far, with victory at the Giro d'Italia in May showing that the Colombian has overcome his back problems that saw him abandon the 2020 Tour de France.
Now he joins a super-strong Ineos Grenadiers team for the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España, where he hopes to add the red jersey to his Giro and Tour victories to complete the set of Grand Tour wins.
In a pre-race press conference, Bernal said: "For me, to win the three big Tours would be like a dream. It is my biggest goal in my career now. But this is the first time I do two Grand Tours in one year so I don’t know how my body will react.
"I’m feeling good but I don’t want too much pressure on myself so I just want to do this race and what happens, happens. I just want to see how I race in two Grand Tours in one year and if there was the opportunity, I would like to win for sure."
Bernal won the Giro by 1-29 over surprise second-place Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) with a fading Simon Yates (BikeExchange) in third. Yates is not riding the Vuelta after riding both the Giro and the Tour but Caruso does return to a support role for his leader Mikel Landa, who won the recent Vuelta a Burgos.
Ineos have also got multiple leaders for this race including Bernal, along with Adam Yates and Olympic road race champion Richard Carapaz.
So far, this tactic has not worked for any team since 2019 when Ineos took first and second in the Tour de France with Bernal taking the win ahead of Geraint Thomas.
Bernal remained coy on how the team would perform at the Vuelta with multiple leaders: "I think any race is different. We can’t compare the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France with the Vuelta. I don’t know, we need to see how we are. We have raced a lot this year and now we don’t know how, with this hot weather, we will react. We just need to be calm."
But the three potential leaders, if all are on top form, could be vital in beating the red hot favourite and defending champion, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), with wave after wave of attacking being a potential option in the mountains.
"I don’t know which tactic is the best," Bernal said. "First you need to have the legs to go on the attack, it’s not that easy. Say I go on the attack, then the other and the other, it’s not that easy.
"We need to see, be calm and wait for our opportunity. Roglič is the Olympic champion in the time trial, the first stage we have a prologue and the last stage is another time trial, so people like me will lose a little bit of time there but we have to be patient and wait for our opportunity. It's a three week race and if you have the legs there will be an opportunity to do something.”
The Vuelta starts on Saturday, August 14 with a 7.1km prologue around the city of Burgos, starting inside the cathedral and finishing just outside after a hilly course.
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