Egan Bernal promises more than just the Tour de France, after becoming the first Colombian to win the yellow jersey and the youngest rider in the modern era.
Team Ineos rider Bernal, 22, returned to his home town of Zipaquirá and was welcomed by a huge party in the main square. During a ceremony, he spoke about the Tour win and other goals, reports Spanish newspaper AS.
“I do not want to be focused only on Tour de France,” Bernal said. “I want to focus on each of the races and continue doing what I’ve been doing so far.
“I want to live this moment, enjoy it with my people and then think about the future. I don’t know what can happen to me after having won a Tour de France, I hope to go to the same competitions of recent years. I don’t want to win a Tour of France and that’s it for Egan.”
In an interview yesterday, team-mate and four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, said changes are coming.
“Egan’s life is about to change forever,” Froome said. “Being in Colombia this year and understanding how big cycling is in Colombia, I don’t quite think he knows what’s going to hit him when he gets home.”
Bernal is planning on moving his European cycling base from Andorra to Monaco at the end of 2019. However, beforehand, he has Italian Monument Il Lombardia on his calendar on October 12. In the last two editions, he finished 13th and 12th.
This season in the run up to the Tour de France, Bernal won Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse stage races. Though he wants to diversify, a similar stage race build up to the Tour de France in 2020 is expected once he and Ineos sit down to plan the early season.
Eager to keep the talented rider in its roster, the team renewed his contract at the end of 2018 through to 2023.
“I was going in to the Tour as a co-leader [with Geraint Thomas] and they gave me the opportunity to attack and go in the mountains. I don’t know if I would have succeeded in another team. We have to thank them because they helped me a lot,” he added.
“Winning a Tour de France is very difficult, I can not imagine the five. I want to enjoy this and prepare for the next, I want to have my feet on the ground and keep working. If we win a second, we will try for a third.”
Bernal began by talking about Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal), also 22, who died after crashing in the Tour of Poland on Monday. He observed a minute’s silence for the Belgian.
“I often encountered Bjorg in recent years. I won L’Avenir in 2017, he was second,” Bernal said. “He died during a race, it really hits home with me, and I have a hard time with that. His death brings me a lot of grief. I hope he is in a better place now. We’ll continue to race for him.”