The Spanish daily MARCA quoted Bernal’s agent saying that Bernal will make his highly anticipated grand tour debut at the French tour rather than the Vuelta a España as expected.
“We decided after California,” MARCA quoted Giuseppe Acquadro. “In the end, if he races the Vuelta, he’d have even more pressure than in the Tour, because everyone would be looking at him and he’d had responsibilities of leader.
“If he goes to the Tour, he’ll be racing in the shadow of Chris Froome, and he would be calmer, do his race, work and learn,” he continued. “If he’s at the front of the race, that’s fine, but he wouldn’t have any pressure.”
There was no official confirmation from Team Sky on Tuesday. Sky typically does not comment on which riders might race the Tour. The final Tour selection won’t made until after the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse in late June.
There has been growing speculation about Bernal’s grand tour future following a string of results since moving to Team Sky in 2018.
The 21-year-old Colombian has been impressive so far this season. He rode to sixth in his WorldTour debut at the Santos Tour Down Under in January and won the Colombian national time trial champion and the Oro y Paz stage race in front of home crowds.
In two European stage races, he was poised to finish second overall at the Volta a Catalunya but crashed out just moments before crossing the finish line. He won a stage and finished second overall at the Tour de Romandie.
This month, he won two stages and overcame a late-race deficit to Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) to become the first Colombian winner of the Amgen Tour of California.
According to Acquadro, it was that impressive performance that helped tipped the balance toward racing the Tour instead of the Vuelta.
Former manager Gianni Savio said it would be a mistake to take Bernal to the Tour for his first grand tour.
“Egan is a jewel, but it would be too much to take him to the Tour,” Savio said. “The Vuelta is a much better race for his first grand tour. He has a long future and I am sure he can win a grand tour someday.”
Many say the 2017 winner of the Tour de l’Avenir is the most impressive young rider they’ve seen in the past five years.