Team Sky’s longstanding leader looks at the chances of Bernal and Geraint Thomas this season
While Chris Froome is looking to a record-equalling fifth Tour de France victory in 2019, team-mate Egan Bernal is preparing to lead his first Grand Tour.
Bernal, Team Sky’s young Colombian revelation, is set to lead his team at the Giro d’Italia later this year in only his second WorldTour season.
Froome said: “When you talk to Egan you struggle to believe he is so young. He has a maturity and an incredible ability to read the race.
“For me, he can win it at the first attempt.”
But winner of the 2018 Tour de France, Geraint Thomas, could also ride the Giro alongside Bernal.
Froome says Thomas has unfinished business in Italy after he crashed out in 2017, and that the course in 2019 suits the Welshman well.
Bernal’s 2019 campaign gets his campaign underway at the Colombian national time trial championships on Friday (February 1), where he defends his 2018 title.
He and Froome will be riding the Colombia 2.1 stage race later this month – which was Bernal’s first stage race victory with Team Sky last year.
At the end of his debut year, the British WorldTour team signed Bernal on a new five year contract.
He started his first WorldTour season strong, with a sixth in the Tour Down Under GC, taking home the young rider’s jersey.
He then won the GC at the Colombia Oro y Paz stage race in his home country.
Then Bernal went on to ride to second overall in the Tour de Romandie, before securing his GC victory in the US at the Tour of California in May.
But Bernal’s season didn’t end there – he went on to ride his first Grand Tour in support of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas at the Tour de France. He was the youngest rider in the race.
His most memorable Tour performance came on Alpe d’Huez during stage 12, when he rode on the front for 8km of the legendary climb and dropped his compatriot Nairo Quintana.
Bernal’s ride set up Geraint Thomas to win the stage to Alpe d’Huez, and the Welshman went on to win the race overall.