Bernal dismisses Lombardia favourite tag after evoking Pantani at Gran Piemonte

Gran Piemonte 2019, Egan Bernal
Egan Bernal (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Egan Bernal's solo victory at Gran Piemonte immediately elevated to him to the role of favourite for Saturday's Il Lombardia, but true to character, he preferred to keep his feet on the ground, play down expectations and keep control of his own destiny.

Winning Il Lombardia, one of the sportif big five monument Classics, crowns the career of most riders. But Bernal (Team Ineos) has already won the Tour de France at just 22 and is considered one of the greatest talents of all time, with successful career ahead of him. He doesn’t 'need' to win anything anymore, not even Il Lombardia. He has the luxury than any victory, even Gran Piemonte, can be special for very personal reasons.

"It's great to win here. I raced a lot in Italy during my two years with Androni Giocattoli but I never actually managed to win in Italy," Bernal explained happily.

"To do it here in Oropa, on the climb where Marco Pantani won, and near where I lived, makes it even more emotional. My friends and people from my fan club are here too, so it’s like I've won my home race."

Bernal was only two years old when Marco Pantani won alone in Oropa during the 1999 Giro d'Italia, chasing and passing all his Giro d'Italia rivals after losing his chain at the foot of the climb. It is still remember as a huge sporting 'impresa' in Italy, despite Pantani being expelled from the Corsa Rosa a few days later due to a high
blood haematocrit level.

Bernal said, also focusing on the 'impresa' part. Like Pantani, he also won alone on the cobbled road below the huge stone sanctuary.

"I've seen the videos of Pantani winning in Oropa," before an Italian journalist passed him a mobile phone for a brief conversation with Pantani's mother Tonina.

"When we passed through the village where he lost his chain and I remembered it all and thought about it during the climb. I think everyone should watch those videos and understand what he did that day."

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.