Eddie Dunbar is set to make his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia with the Irishman expected to replace Egan Bernal in the Team Ineos line-up. Bernal was meant to lead the British team at the three-week race but on Saturday the Colombian broke his collarbone in a training accident.
With Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas still on course for the Tour de France, the Team Ineos management have decided to give Dunbar a shot, less than a year after joining the team.
The 22-year-old spoke to Cyclingnews at the conclusion of the Tour de Yorkshire on Sunday, where he confirmed that he was in the mix to head to the Giro and take the spot left vacant by Bernal. Cyclingnews understands that the decision has now been taken and that Team Ineos will announce their eight-rider roster late on Monday.
"I’d love to go to the Giro," Dunbar told Cyclingnews at the conclusion of the Tour de Yorkshire in Leeds.
"It was a goal of mine at the start of the year. Then I had problems with injury, so I thought that it was out of the question but I’ve come back strong from injury. It will be a good race to go to and my first Grand Tour. I think that in the next 24 hours we’ll know."
While Dunbar was obviously excited by the idea of racing the Giro, he also paid tribute to the unfortunate Bernal. The loss of the Colombian robs the race of one of the best climbers in the world.
"We have to respect that Egan was preparing for this race and he’s obviously disappointed. He was going in as one of the favourites and everyone at Team Ineos wishes him a speedy recovery and hopes that he comes back. I’m sure that he’ll come back and perform even stronger at the end of the year. But this opens things up for another rider. Would I like it to be me? Of course, I would," said Dunbar.
At the Tour de Yorkshire Dunbar was influential in the Team Ineos’ first overall win since their arrival in the sport last week. The Irishman laid the groundwork with Chris Froome before Chris Lawless matched an attack from Greg Van Avermaet. The Belgian won the stage but it was Lawless, who finished second, who won the overall title.
"We were strong and we had numbers in the final like we did yesterday. We outsmarted the other teams," Dunbar added.
"A lot of them thought that we’d ride hard with myself and [Owain] Doull there but we back Chris Lawless and he performed today. That was always our plan. We just rode every climb easy until the last one and then Chris had enough energy in the tank. We rode a perfect race."
The Giro d’Italia is due to start in Bologna on Saturday, May 11.