'I'm in survival mode': Egan Bernal doubtful of Vuelta a España podium after tough stage 19

The Colombian star says he's paying for his long-distance attack on stage 17

Egan Bernal at the 2021 Vuelta a España
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Egan Bernal has cast doubts on his possibilities of finishing on the podium saying that he is in "survival mode" for the last two stages of the Vuelta a España 2021.

The Ineos Grenadiers leader went on a 61km attack with leader of the race Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) on stage 17 and has looked like he is coming into the top form he's previously shown at Grand Tours.

However, as he slowly climbs through the standings, he has spoken out about how he has struggled since the attack and is doubtful that he'll make the podium currently held by Roglič and the Movistar duo of Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López almost two minutes ahead of Bernal in fifth.

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After stage 19, which turned into an unexpectedly brutal day for the peloton as they chased the breakaway, Bernal doubted his chances of standing on the podium come Sunday.

"I haven't even thought about my podium options," Bernal said, "it's very complicated, I don’t think I can make it.

"Yesterday [stage 18] we paid a bit for the day we attacked 60 km from the finish line with Roglič, I think it showed, and even more today. It was not an easy day even though it was a stage for the sprint. It was almost 100 km going up. If I had legs I would attack, but I think I'm in a survival mode."

Bernal finished in 24th place on stage 19 after being placed well in the peloton by his team-mate Tom Pidcock. He sits at 4-43 from Roglič in the overall standings but 1-59 from López in third with Bahrain Victorious' Jack Haig between the two.

"It was a very tough stage. I felt like it was going up all day," continued the reigning Giro d'Italia champion. 

"The last part was faster, but there was a lot of wear. Everyone in the peloton was in a hurry, we were going very fast. Tomorrow is about surviving."

Stage 20 is another day for the climbers, albeit at a much lower altitude with the highest climb of the day just nudging over 600 metres. 

However, with five categorised climbs along with several uncategorised ones it should be another day of suffering over the 202.2km from Sanxenxo to Mos. Castro de Herville.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.