Bernal stepped up to WorldTour racing with Team Sky at the start of last year and made a surprise Grand Tour debut at the Tour de France in July. The 21-year-old Colombian rode an impressive race and finished 15th overall, as well as helping Froome and Geraint Thomas to the podium – with Thomas taking the overall win.
“I learned a lot from a lot of people, but I would say that I learned the most from Froome at the Tour. I was next to him on the bus and I was always looking at him,” Bernal said on the team's website. “At how he takes notes on paper, how he talks in the meetings on the bus, and I was almost always behind him in the peloton, so I was looking at what he did. I learned a lot from him. It was really good.”
The Tour de France was a highpoint in a strong WorldTour debut for Bernal, who won the overall classification at the Colombia Oro y Paz and the Tour of California, as well as taking second at the Tour de Romandie. There were some challenges, however, with a crash on the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya and a high-speed spill at the Clasica San Sebastian.
“I didn’t expect to have a season like I did,” said Bernal. “When I arrived here, at the best team in the world, I didn’t expect to go to the Tour or to win in California – a WorldTour race. I thought I would just learn and no more. I didn’t expect any results, and then they came.
“My best moment was the Tour. I won California and a stage at Romandie, but the Tour is the most important race in cycling.”
Bernal’s performances have been enough to convince Team Sky that he should have an opportunity to lead the team at a Grand Tour in 2019. Team Sky confirmed on Tuesday that Bernal would be their GC contender at the Giro d’Italia in May – just his second appearance at a three-week race.
“Next year, I think the most important race that I'll do will be the Giro. It’s a race that I really like. I lived there for three years, so I have a lot of friends there. I really like the Italian fans, and I know the roads, so I really like the Giro and I want to do a good race there,” he said.
Friend and former Androni Giocattoli teammate Ivan Sosa will join Bernal at the team in 2019. Sosa signed for Team Sky despite having initially agreed to ride for Trek-Segafredo for this season, and Bernal is delighted to be reunited with his compatriot.
“Ivan is my friend. I did a year with him at Androni, and I won the Tour de l’Avenir with him,” said Bernal. “He was a really good teammate, and to stay with him in this team is really special because it was our dream to maybe some day be together in another team, and now the dream has come true.
“It’s nice to stay with him in the same room and talk about other friends, and Colombia, and to speak in Spanish, and he’s really excited to be here with Froome, Thomas, [Michal] Kwiatkowski. His first impressions of the team are really good. I'm really happy for him, and am sure he'll have a really good season.”