Bernal returns to Europe and plans Tour de France

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Madrid (AFP)

Egan Bernal flew to Madrid on Monday on a special flight for Colombian athletes and said his goal was to defend his Tour de France title.

“I will meet my team in Andorra and we will prepare for the races,” Bernal said at Madrid airport.

The flight transported 110 sportsmen and women, including road cyclists Nairo Quintana from Arkea-Samsic, Rigoberto Uran from EF Pro Cycling and Miguel Angel Lopez from Astana, as well as double Olympic BMX champion Mariana Pajon, shooters , footballers and judokas.

None of them will need to be quarantined in Spain, as they passed coronavirus tests before embarking on Colombia, where cities like Bogota and Medellin are strictly on lockdown due to the pandemic.

Bernal has said he plans to travel to neighboring Andorra, where he will meet his team Ineos to prepare for the season and the Tour, which runs from August 29 to September 20.

“The best thing is to go step by step,” said Bernal, for whom his priority is “to go to training camp, to see what level I am at.”

“It’s been a long time since I competed, but no one is participating, it’s a different season,” added the 23-year-old.

He said he wanted to “take advantage of the races that will take place before the Tour de France, and there we will see what I am, at what level my colleagues are and from there everything will start”.

Quintana, who was struck by a car while training near his home in Boyaca, central Colombia, in early July, said that after two weeks of rest, he was ready for training. .

“We are going to take covid tests and start training sessions,” said Quintana, who said he was not afraid of possible contagion during the races.

“We are supposed to have biosecurity protocols to ensure that each time we participate in a competition, none of us will be infected,” he said.

The pandemic has forced a change in the cycling calendar. The rescheduled Tour de France will start an overloaded fall calendar with the World Championships in Switzerland starting on the day the Tour ends and taking place September 20-27, the Giro d’Italia October 3-25 and the Vuelta a Espana from October 20 to November 8.

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