Team Sky's Egan Bernal took the biggest win of his career so far when he landed the overall classification of Paris-Nice on Sunday, and said that the reality of what he's achieved may take some time to sink in.
Bernal's win came in large part thanks to his ability to have finished up at the front of the race in the windy opening couple of stages, thanks to sterling work by teammate Luke Rowe, in particular, who gave him plenty of 'on the job' training, shouting to tell the diminutive climber where he needed to be, while around them their rivals lost their heads and, early on, their chances of winning the race.
Bernal then struck the killer blow on stage 7, with its summit finish on the Col de Turini, to take the leader's jersey, having matched Movistar's Nairo Quintana and putting time into his other rivals.
The 22-year-old came up against Quintana again on the final stage, and while the more experienced Colombian went on the attack, Bernal was again able to keep his head thanks to the work of his Team Sky teammates.
"When some of the GC riders started to attack, I knew I could follow them, but also I know that I have a really good, strong team, and my team can control these races," Bernal continued. "So it wasn't too difficult to stay calm because I really believe in my team. They did a really, really good job. We knew it was the last day, so they pulled really hard.
"Nairo was really strong, but I had a really good team – Kwiato [Michal Kwiatkowski], Ivan Sosa, Tao Geoghegan Hart... When Quintana attacked, I thought that if I followed, then afterwards I may end up alone. I preferred to wait a little bit, and to stay calm."
Bernal finished with an ample 39-second buffer back to Quintana on the GC, with Sky teammate Michael Kwiatkowski – who held the lead earlier in the race – in third overall, another 24 seconds back.
It was Bernal's first win of 2019, and he'll head to the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the Tour of the Alps before leading Team Sky at the Giro d'Italia in May.
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