Still riding high from his Giro d’Italia victory, the Colombian star confirmed he will target the Spanish grand tour (August 14 to September 9) with the idea of winning.
“Yes, the Vuelta. Right now, I don’t want to think about one-month training and being away from home, but I like to race, and I like to prepare, to do things well, so I know I will have the motivation to go to the Vuelta and do it well,” Bernal said in an interview with Semana TV. “We’re looking at the Vuelta. I can’t just sit at home and do nothing.”
With victory already in the 2019 Tour de France, and now the Giro, Bernal could be poised to complete the “grand tour” sweep, if he races and wins the Vuelta. Bernal has never raced the Vuelta, and right now, does not have any firm dates on his racing calendar.
Bernal said he will return to Colombia to recover and celebrate his Giro victory, which is only the second ever by a Colombian rider.
Bernal already confirmed he would not race the Tour de France, and said he will take a short break and return to Colombia following his Giro victory, one he characterized as being as important as his Tour de France victory in 2019.
Also read: Egan Bernal will not race Tour de France
“The Giro was completely different than we expected,” he said. “We thought that the first part of the race would be about limiting the losses and then taking the time back in the end on favorable terrain in the mountains. And it turned out completely opposite; I took time early, and then when the mountains came, there were others stronger and I had to really count on my teammates.”
Also read: Egan Bernal on edge as Giro GC opens up
Bernal thanked his Ineos Grenadiers teammates, calling them a team very bacano — a Colombian term for being very close and united. The team ushered Bernal through the most difficult moments of the race, and he was quick to thank everyone inside the Ineos Grenadiers organization.
G I R O pic.twitter.com/ibdK6rHVDF
— Egan Arley Bernal (@Eganbernal) May 30, 2021
“I wanted to win the Giro before winning the Tour de France,” he said. “I ‘grew up’ as a cyclist in Italy, and I would have preferred to have won the Giro first, but for one reason or another, I never went. After what happened last year, I came to the Giro with a bit of doubt, with the physical problems from what happened in the 2020 Tour, so to win the Giro finally, after all the problems, was really something special. I wanted to go well, but I was nervous and I was unsure, and my team really helped me.”
Bernal also said he’s a “different person” from who he was when he won the Tour in 2019 at 22 years old. He’s since become a national hero, seen his personal life become a media focus, as well as suffered health problems that saw him implode during the 2020 Tour.
“I’ve lived a lot of things, not just in sport but at the personal level as well,” Bernal said. “Things are changing, and I am more mature. I won the Tour at 22, and that’s not easy. I obviously had a lot to learn, and I still do. I’ve changed a lot since I was 22, and the ‘Egan at 22’ is very different than the ‘Egan of today.’
“I don’t think I could have won this Giro if I had faced the same situation at 22. I’m only 24 now, so I am not that old, but a lot of things have happened since then, and it helped me to win this Giro. I was surrounded by good people with a lot of experience.”