Much has changed in the world and in cycling since Bernal won his first Grand Tour victory (and deprived teammate Geraint Thomas of a second overall title). The most notable (in cycling at least) being the advent of Pogacar’s age, the Slovenian winning two Tour de France victories on the rebound.
In August 2019, with the newly created Bernal in the yellow jersey, it felt like we were stepping into a different new era – one that would be dominated by him and Ineos, in the same way Chris Froome and Team Sky had. done, or Indurain and Banesto. It hasn’t been so far.
“It’s time to come back” – Bernal ready for the tilt of the Tour 2022
11/23/2021 At 2:18 PM
This week, the Colombian was quoted by Mundo Ciclistico magazine as saying he had plans for the 2022 Tour.
“It is clear that we are going to concentrate all our preparation and our efforts while thinking of participating in the Tour de France next year.
Bernal has also expressed his desire to return to the path that has seen him win his only yellow jersey to date.
“It is time to go back on the path we took in 2019 and from which we have separated a little. “
Bernal must have Ineos’ leadership in July if he is to win the Tour, but his path to that is far from clear. He proved by winning the Giro last year that he is still a serious contender.
Thomas is reportedly still in contract negotiations with Ineos to ride for the team next year. This has been the case so often in past seasons that the news that he has ‘finally made a deal’ is quickly gaining a permanent place in the calendar somewhere between the six days of Ghent and Christmas.
If the unthinkable happened and Thomas left Ineos, the team he has represented for over a decade, Bernal’s path to Tour leadership would become much simpler. But it would not be completely without obstacles.
Richard Carapaz will continue with Ineos until the next season, and he achieved an honorable third place on the Tour behind Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo Visma) in 2021. The Ecuadorian also won the Giro a few years ago, demonstrating that it does. have the chops to win a Grand Tour victory. The reality of Carapaz’s third place, however, is that he was still more than seven minutes ahead of Pogacar. In terms of the Grand Tour, it’s not even close.
And then of course there’s the back issue, which hangs like the sword of Damocles over Bernal, and saw him withdraw from the Tour in 2020. Bernal indicated that he believed the problem was resolved, but he and his support team continue to monitor and reinforce the area.
The question for the coaches of the Ineos teams is then complex. Do they go with the still young phenomenon with a shady back that has already won the race? Are they giving their support to longtime company man Thomas, who won’t stand being kicked out of the Tour squad and still carries a lot of weight in the squad setup? Or do they choose Carapaz who might just be the kind of chaotic, unpredictable wildcard to destabilize Pogacar?
Let’s just hope they don’t choose “the trident”.
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