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Egan Bernal admits his time deficit will be tough...

Tour Colombia: Bernal to change strategy after disappointing stage 1

The 2019 Tour de France winner is on the back foot, after losing three-quarters of a minute in the opening team time trial.

Tour de France champion Egan Bernal said his INEOS outfit will have to “rethink” its strategy after a disappointing opening team time-trial at the Tour Colombia, on Tuesday.

“We made a couple of mistakes… We didn’t expect to lose so much time, it wasn’t a bad time-trial, what Education First did was a very good time-trial,” said 23-year-old Bernal.

EF Pro Cycling scorched around the 16.7km circuit at Tunja, 2,700m above sea level, in a time of 18:01 to put Ecuador’s Jonathan Caicedo in the leader’s jersey.

Team Deceunick-Quick Step — with of French star Julian Alaphilippe — finished in second place, 45 seconds back. Team INEOS was one second behind the Belgian squad.

The UAE Emirates team with 2015 Vuelta a España winner Fabio Aru came in fifth, losing a minute to EF Pro Cycling.

The first day result puts the likes of Colombian pair Sergio Higuita and Daniel Martinez, in a strong position to challenge for the overall victory, Bernal said.

“It’s going to be difficult to take back so much time,” added Bernal, who won the inaugural Colombian tour, two years ago.

Team INEOS’s line-up also boasts 2019 Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz, of Ecuador.

The entire six-day tour is raced at above 2,500m, with Sunday’s finale ending on the climb to the Puerto de El Verjon at 3,290m.

Wednesday’s third stage is a 152km trek from Paipa to Duitama, in the Boyaca region.