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Egan Bernal confirms Tour de France will be center of 2022 ambitions

The Colombian rider wants to return to the glory days of his 2019 win after recovering from the back injury that troubled his title defense.

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Egan Bernal has his eyes set on a return to the Tour de France in 2022.

Speaking to Colombian website Revista Mundo Ciclístico, the 24-year-old said that his full focus will be on a return to the French grand tour.

Bernal hasn’t been to the Tour since his third-week departure from the 2020 edition due to a lingering back problem. This year, he chose to focus on the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, winning the former by a comfortable margin and taking sixth overall at the latter.

“The answer is yes,” Bernal told Revista Mundo Ciclístico when asked if he would go to the 2022 Tour. “It is clear that we are going to focus all our preparation and efforts thinking about competing in the Tour de France this year. It is time to return to the path that we found in 2019 and from which we have separated a little.”

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Bernal became the youngest post-World War II winner of the Tour de France in 2019 when he took victory at just 22 years and 196 days. Of course, that mantle was quickly taken from him by Tadej Pogačar, who won on the eve of his 22nd birthday.

The world appeared to be Bernal’s oyster after his surprise win, but he would be plagued by a back injury during the defense of his title in 2020, and struggled in the final week before abandoning the race. Doubts remained about his back coming into the start of this season, but he has so far avoided any major issues.

“Well, I think I have fully recovered, but nevertheless we have been monitoring the evolution through physiotherapy sessions, strengthening with gym attendance, hoping to start the cycling year and continue without anything that could affect performance on the bike,” he said.

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One of Bernal’s key aims for 2021, as well as getting some wins on the board, was to enjoy cycling again. He appeared to do just that as he rode to victory at the Giro d’Italia in May, beating his nearest rival by almost 90 seconds.

The race, however, took its toll on him physically, something that was not helped by him contracting COVID-19 almost immediately afterward. He would take almost two months off racing following the Giro as he prepared for the Vuelta.

“It is a beautiful and fantastic memory,” he said of the Giro. “It had enormous personal and sporting significance for me, for my team, and for our country it was something very cool. It had a very high cost in both individual and collective physical and mental effort, but it is a triumph that we will not forget.”

The 2021 season closed for Bernal relatively early when he pulled the plug after finishing the Vuelta a España. It has allowed him a healthy break from racing before building the foundations of his 2022 season.

Rumors had spread late in the season that Bernal was looking to leave his contract with Ineos Grenadiers early but he remains with the squad and is working hard ahead another year with them.

His preparations have included a trip to a velodrome to work on his time trialing, one of the few chinks in his armor as a grand tour rider.

“After some necessary vacations, I am already focused again on training, both physical and purely cycling preparation, and I hope to find little the right condition for the coming season for which I will also be traveling at the beginning of December to Spain for a training camp where we are going to define programs and details for next year,” Bernal said.