Tour or no Tour, Bernal says he’ll be team player in 2020

Bernal happy to let the road decide who will lead the Tour de France, but first he has to decide if he will even be at the start line in Nice.

Egan Bernal wants to defend his Tour de France title, but he won’t revolt if he races elsewhere.

At least that’s what he’s saying now. In an interview this week with the Spanish daily AS, Bernal said he will follow team orders going into next season despite a Tour route, that on paper, favors his style of racing.

“I’d like to go back, of course, because I’d like to defend my title,” Bernal told AS. “There are other factors. Let’s see what the team decides. I am also aware there are other prestigious races. We’ll make a decision between all of us.”

Team Ineos will have a wealth of talent for 2020. Along with Bernal, the team packs four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, looking good on his comeback, and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas. The arrival of the defending Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz only makes the already deep Ineos bench even deeper.

Bernal, 22, said he’s not losing sleep yet about what lies in store for 2020.

“We’ve already raced a Tour with Froome, Thomas and myself, and we got along well,” he said. “In the end, the road decides. We don’t get nervous on this team in those type of situations. And I don’t think it’s worth killing yourself trying to worry about who is going to be the leader and who isn’t.”

Bernal said he liked what he saw in the 2020 Tour route, a course packed with climbs and short on time trials. In short, a course ideally suited for a climber like himself.

The Colombian sensation said he’s not worried about what lies ahead next season because he knows his career at the elite of the peloton is just getting started.

“Last year I didn’t go to the Tour as the outright leader, either, and I won the Tour,” he said. “But the first thing we have to decide is if I go to the Tour, because there are other races. I have a lot of respect for the Giro and for the Vuelta. There are three grand tours, so there are opportunities for everyone.

“The most important thing is not to make a decision out of fear of not being the leader,” he said. “There’s understanding, and in the end, the strongest always wins. And on pitches at 20 percent grades, it won’t do any good to have someone wait for you.”