Bernal third in Colombian TT champs

02 Feb 2019

Bernal third in Colombian TT champs

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Egan Bernal is happy to have kicked his 2019 season off with a podium appearance in the Colombian national time trial championships.

Bernal was racing for the first time this year and aiming to defend his title that he won in impressive fashion last season.

But Dani Martinez (EF Education First) - who finished second to Egan by six seconds in 2018 - prevailed, taking the title. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) claimed second, with Egan third.

Bernal said: “I am happy with the result. In the race I felt really good. The final was so hard that the strongest was always going to win. 
Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal

I’m happy for the result, the podium, and I felt good.
“I’m really happy for Dani and he deserves this result. Last year he did some really good time trials. And I’m happy because it’s my first race and last year, in the last part of the season, I didn’t race too much. It has been a long time and it’s difficult to come to a time trial and explode at your maximum straight away. I’m happy for the result, the podium, and I felt good.”

The 28.2 kilometre course, from Cumaral to Villavicencio, was predominantly flat, with a nasty sting in the tail. It’s not dissimilar to what Egan, Sebastian Henao and Ivan Sosa can expect in Sunday’s Colombian national road race championship, with a long, predominantly flat loop, before tackling a tough circuit numerous times in the finale.

“It will be an open race,” continued Egan. “The first part will be flat and it’s long. It will be difficult to control. We have just three riders and we cannot control the whole race - we will be tired!

“I think it will be good training for Tour Colombia and we will do our best. We will try and be smart, follow other teams, but it will be very difficult.”

Will Egan and Sebastian be able to take any inspiration from last year, when they helped Sergio Henao to the title?

“It was a different circuit last year. It was just one circuit, and quite hard. This year it will be different, with the long flat section before. But we will try."
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Bernal is upbeat about his shape heading into the race and then onto the Tour Colombia. He’s been putting the finishing touches to his preparation with the team at a training camp in Rionegro, alongside Chris Froome, Jonathan Castroviejo and more. He, Sebastian and Ivan will rejoin the rest of the group on Monday for another week of training before the race starts.

And Egan smiles as he starts to talk about having the team in his homeland: “It’s great. We were all together in Mallorca in December but it’s different. It’s a little more relaxed.

“Now, here in Colombia, the race is closer, you feel different. To have the team here is nice for us, it’s our home, and especially having Chris is really nice: for me, for the fans, and the Colombian people. It’s exciting to have him here and not just to train, but race too. It’s really nice.”

And now that his season has started Bernal can start to think a little more about his main objective for 2019: the Giro d’Italia.

“It will be a good experience to be the leader in a Grand Tour for the first time with the team. I want to do a good race: I don’t mind if I win, come fifth, tenth, whatever; I just want to go there and at the finish of the Giro say I did my best and have that experience. It’s for the future - but I want to do a good result. I will have a good team behind me and it will be nice to go there as the leader. I’m excited about it.”
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