There was a time when Egan Bernal was clear. Goodbye to the bike, to the Mountain Bike. It was his passion, but there were more important things in life. Help at home, for example. To his father Germán, guard of the nature reserve near Zipaquirá, the city where the family lived. And Flor, his mother, store cleaner. Egan, who gave everything they had, regrets. Because he didn't see a future in a sport that had him in love, he got good results, but in which nobody finished supporting him. In the studies it was not bad either. He obtained a scholarship and thus was able to enroll in the University of La Sabana, in Bogotá, to study journalism.
Six years later he is sitting in the press room of the Tour de France. But who gives the statements and answers is he. The winner of the Tour de France. Those who know him, are very clear that this will not be the last Tour of Bernal. He says it himself. «This is like a vice, you win the first and you are already thinking about the next. In winning five. But I am very happy to have achieved the first ». The first remarks.
Pablo Mazuera, his patron, was the one who convinced him that, at least, he would continue riding for another year. "I had promised myself never to do it," recalls the Ineos cyclist. Mazuera got him financing and took him to run MTB tests all over the world. Taking advantage of some World Cups in Norway, they did some physical tests. Egan burst all the machines with their potential. They were quickly sent to Gianni Savio, the director of Androni. Bernal had never played any road test although he already had two medals as a youth in two MTB world championships. Savio wasted no time. "He told me to run the Piccolo Fiandre, and that depending on the result, he would make me a contract." Bernal won that race and that same night stamped his signature to become a professional. I was 19 years old.
«I was a little scared because I went from direct youth to professionals. I thought I was not going to finish any race ». To Savio, his jewel did not last long. When a year later he won the Tour del Porvenir, Unzue and Brailsford set their sights on him. The bid was won by the Englishman and Egan Bernal made the leap last year to the World Tour with Sky.
In his debut, he won the Tour of California and drove Froome and Thomas to Paris. The world already indicated him as the champion of the future, but Ineos preferred to continue betting on the home runners. Thomas, the Welshman, and Froome, the Kenyan with an English passport. Bernal, a Colombian, was still wanted as a gregarious. But his talent and quality shouted much more. They have no choice but to let him fly if they wanted to get what is already the fifth consecutive Tour of the Brailsford team, the seventh in total after those achieved by Wiggins, Froome and Thomas. But Bernal did not claim anything. "If I never win the Tour but I am the best gregarious in the world, I will be very happy," he said.
The mountains, as high as those of his Zipaquira have put him in the place he deserves. Dressed in yellow thanks to his attack on the Col de l'Iseran, the roof of this Tour with 2,770 meters of altitude. «Near my house is the Pacho slope, it is my favorite climb. Before coming to Europe I always do a test there. Climb up to 3,000 meters. On this Tour, every port that went up told me that it is like Pacho ».
«Bernal is like Federer, it will mark an era. And he needs a Rafa Nadal as a rival to make it historic, ”says Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour, who already rubs his hands with the show that comes to the Tour in the coming years. No one climbs like him, nor does anyone of his mountain level perform so well against the clock. "I've done very crazy things to get here," he says. To write your own story without being a journalist.
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