Geraint Thomas (Ineos) will turn his attention to helping Egan Bernal win the 2019 Tour de France just as Chris Froome did for him in the 2018 edition.
Bernal, the team’s 22-year-old Colombian star, took the yellow jersey on the shortened stage to Tignes. He topped the Iseran first and with enough gap over Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) to take the lead. Then the organisers trimmed the stage due to rain, hail and a mudslide in the valley before Tignes.
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He leads in the yellow jersey with 45 seconds on Alaphilippe and 1-11 on Thomas, the 2018 victor. If he won in Paris in two days, he would be the first Colombian to do so and the youngest post-war winner – and Thomas pledges his support to that goal.
“Most definitely,” Thomas said when asked if his job was to help Bernal win the Tour.
“Going into the last stage, Egan’s in the yellow jersey so the main thing is he finishes the job. I haven’t seen any GC yet but for sure he’ll have a decent advantage over everyone else so we’ll fully support him now.”
Thomas spoke at the anti-doping tent while Bernal celebrated on the podium in the yellow jersey. Bernal on Saturday will race to become Ineos’s seventh Tour winner, adding to those wins from Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Thomas.
Bernal was tipped to win the Tour among others including Thomas. He won the Paris-Nice overall and the Tour de Suisse overall earlier this year.
“He’s been incredible from the start of the Tour,” Thomas continued.
“He’s a phenomenal talent. We all said last year he’ll win the Tour one day, maybe we didn’t expect it to be this year but he’s been super strong and he’s shown, climbing, he’s one of the best here. So we just need to finish this job now.”
Thomas made his move on the Iseran, which Ineos noted as being potentially decisive even before the bad weather swept though the Alps. He was followed, then Bernal led the way in the wake of his Welsh team-mate.
Their tag-team effort ensured Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey. But they did not know what was going to happen next. And Thomas, regardless, thought the team was “in a great position” for the eventual 2019 Tour win.
“It was a funny one because you think if we’d known that before, it would have been more of a race on the last climb. It’s one of those things, it’s out of everyone’s control,” said Thomas.
“I dunno, it’s all ifs and buts [whether or not I had the legs to do more] but the main thing is we’ve got the yellow jersey in the team now.
“We’re in a great position. We’ve just got to go and finish the job off tomorrow.”