The Colombian says he is not feeling the pressure ahead of leading Team Sky at the 2019 Giro
Bernal signed with Team Sky for 2018 and won the Tour of California before making his Grand Tour debut helping Geraint Thomas win the Tour de France. Now, the British super-team are giving the Colombian leadership responsibilities for the Italian Grand Tour, which runs from May 11 to June 2.
“Pressure, pressure… Everyone talks about it, journalists always ask about it. What does one gain from pressure? Absolutely nothing,” Bernal told Marca.
“Some people bring it on because they make a bad comment to the press like, ‘I’m going to win the Tour de France.’ I want to do well in the Giro d’Italia, but they’ll continue paying me the same.”
He is due to lead the team with Italian Gianni Moscon. Some recent reports suggested Geraint Thomas could also race the Giro, but the team and the Welshman himself have said otherwise.
It would be Bernal’s second Grand Tour, but some say big things are already possible. Chris Froome, the 2018 Giro winner, said in the last weeks that he expects Bernal to fight for the top places and the leader’s pink jersey.
“I’m happy because the team gave me the opportunity to race it,” continued Bernal. “I’ll be calm. The pressure would come if I say that I’m going to win it, but I’ll get the best out of myself.
“I don’t know if my best is winning the Giro, placing 10th, 15th or cracking. I’m just going to head there quietly, get the work done and that’s it. If I don’t get a result in the Giro, nothing happens. There’s no fear of losing, you always want to win, but if you don’t win, nothing happens.
“I’m still a good cyclist. If I don’t win at 22, it does not mean that I’m never going to be able to win it or I’m going to stop being a good cyclist.”
Bernal won the Tour Colombia in 2018 to start his season. Last week, with the help of Froome, he placed fourth overall in the race and kicked off his 2019 campaign. He reflected on his personal life and the importance of his job.
“The Europeans come here and say that we might feel ‘at ease’ racing on our home roads. It’s another environment for us,” he said.
“I think about my family and I am the head of my house… And so it is not a game. It was never a game for me.
“Obviously, I like to ride a bicycle, I like to train, everything… But it was never a game. I race and in my home, they are depending on what I do.”