Egan Bernal (Ineos) is trying to calm the mounting enthusiasm around him.
Everyone is excited about the future for the 22-year-old Colombian sensation, who became the youngest rider in the modern era to win the Tour de France in July.
Up to now, it’s Bernal who is trying to calm everyone else down.
“I don’t feel any pressure before a big race, at least not now,” Bernal told AFP. “I’m only 22. Before I started the Tour this year, no one said it was up to me to win.”
Bernal, speaking to AFP at the Saitama Critérium in Japan, said rather than make things more complicated for himself, his victory this summer in the Tour takes off the pressure, rather than add to it.
“I’ve already won the Tour de France,” he said. “So even if I never win it again, I will be able to tell my children that I won the Tour.”
Bernal is still soaking in the enormity of his Tour victory. So far, he seems to be taking things in stride. He finished off the season on a high note, including winning Gran Piemonte and finishing third at the Giro di Lombardia, good for his first podium finish in a monument.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said. “I just want to be a good rider.”
For 2020, Bernal has remained ambiguous about what his racing calendar might look like. After seeing both routes for the Giro d’Italia and Tour, he remains uncommitted on his priorities, at least publicly.
“Everyone says the Tour course is one for climbers,” he said. “We’ll study more in-depth and make the right decision.”
With Chris Froome returning from injury with hopes of winning a record fifth yellow jersey, Ineos will have plenty of firepower to spread across the grand tour racing calendar. The arrival of defending Giro champ Richard Carapaz along with 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas means Ineos will need to work out everyone’s schedule.
Bernal hinted he’s not convinced to race the Tour next season.
“I don’t want to be a rider who is only obsessed with the Tour,” he said. “I have too much respect for the other races, especially the Italian races which I particularly like.”