Egan Bernal says he posted his best numbers ever while losing time to his GC rivals during his Tour de France title defence.
“I actually felt good,” the Ineos rider said, refusing to be downbeat after the finish of stage 13. “I did my best but the others were stronger. We will see what happens in the coming days.”
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As race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) rode away from their GC rivals with 2km to go to the summit finish at Puy Mary, Bernal continued riding his own pace, saying he was putting out some of his best numbers ever, yet he still unable to match the power of the Slovenian duo.
“If I look at my figures, they are among the best number I have ever done. I just have to accept that the others are better,” Bernal told Sporza.
Behind Roglič and Pogačar in the overall classification sit four Colombians, all within 90 seconds of the yellow jersey.
Bernal slipped to third, 59 seconds behind Roglič and 15 in arrears to Pogačar, with Rigoberto Urán (EF), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) all breathing down his neck close behind.
While Bernal has poured cold water on what could be a potentially explosive Colombian alliance to topple their European rivals, the 23-year-old will hold on to hope that he can hit back in the Alps.
“I have to look at it day by day, stay focused and distribute my efforts well,” Bernal said. “I have to try to keep my head high.”
With a less mountainous ride to Lyon on stage 14, the GC battle will resume with a summit finish on the Grand Colombier on Sunday, the climb on which Roglič beat Bernal on the final stage of the Tour de l’Ain at the start of August.
Then, it will be a decisive final week in the Alps, where Bernal secured yellow during his successful 2019 Tour ride.