Egan Bernal says he is always trying to learn something new when riding alongside four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
The Team Sky pair line-up together for the second time this season at the Volta a Catalunya, which started on Monday. Bernal and Froome also rode together at the Tour Colombia in February, Froome’s only competitive appearance so far this year after pulling out of the UAE Tour.
Bernal meanwhile has ridden Paris-Nice since, winning the general classification despite starting the race as second choice leader to Michał Kwiatkowski.
The 22-year-old said that Chris Froome is designated leader for the Spanish race this week, but says he’ll “remain attentive” in case he’s required to step in as leader of the team.
Fellow Colombians Jhonatan Narváez and Iván Sosa also line-up at Catalunya, with Pavel Sivakov and Christian Knees completing the Sky squad.
“I consider him the leader of the Sky,” Bernal told AS when asked about his relationship with Froome.
I always listen and watch all of his actions. From how he talks to the directors, how he addresses us or how he takes care of every detail… You can always learn something new from him.
“We will see the approach [at Catalunya],” he added.
“I went to Paris-Nice as second leader, after Kwiatkowski, and I didn’t care. It’s another burden with that weight and I need to remain attentive and take control if necessary. I always compete to the maximum, so the mission is the same. Although Chris wants to focus on the preparation for the Tour, he may go easy.”
Despite his career still being in it’s relative infancy, Bernal has convinced team management that he’s good enough to lead the squad into the season’s first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia. He’ll face his biggest challenge to date up against former winners Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) as well as 2018 Vuelta a España winner Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Bernal said he will not place too much pressure on himself in his leadership debut, saying that any missed goals won’t be down to a lack of hard work.
“I will go all in [for the Giro],” he said, “with the best training behind me and with the best block coming up.
“I am proud and I’m taking it normally. I don’t intend it to turn into something ugly if I don’t achieve some objectives that for some reasons or others are not within my reach.
“I will work, take care of myself and go with the intention of achieving success. If that doesn’t happen, it won’t be because of not trying with the greatest enthusiasm and the best dedication.”
Sky will change ahead of the Giro this year with new sponsor Ineos taking over from the Tour de Yorkshire in April. Bernal added that he is trying to stay grounded when it comes to the idea of joining the team’s list of Grand Tour winners, which includes Froome, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins.
“I would love it [if I could succeed them]”, Bernal said, “but my feet are on the ground.
“I love my job, it’s not hard for me to go training for six or seven hours. I like to ride a bike, it entertains me, I enjoy it. This makes it easier to plan goals. However, I don’t think so long term. What will happen, will happen when ready. Right now, my head is in the Giro.”