While Geraint Thomas’ contract situation remains both unsigned and unclear, and Ineos Grenadiers have yet to announce their Grand Tour plans for 2022, Egan Bernal has reiterated his desire to return to the Tour de France and compete for the yellow jersey.
The 2019 Tour de France winner was forced out of the 2020 edition due to a back injury and then skipped this year’s race after winning the Giro d’Italia in May.
In the summer Richard Carapaz fought valiantly for a podium spot but Ineos were unable to take on Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) who rode away to his second straight title.
A fully fit Bernal is likely to be Ineos best hope of recapturing the Tour de France title for the next couple of years. Even with over 50 kilometres of time trialing in next year’s edition, the Colombian is the team’s best option in the mountains at this stage in his career.
The 2022 Tour de France route has already been announced, with 53km of time trials included. There are also trips to the Vosges, the Alps and the Pyrenees along the way but it is very much a route for the time trial specialists and all-rounders.
Speaking to Mundo Ciclístico Magazine (opens in new tab) at an event in Colombia the 24-year-old repeated his push for leadership when asked about the Tour de France, having already confirmed his desire to race the Grand Boucle when speaking to Cyclingnews earlier this month in Dubai.
“The answer is yes. It is clear that we are going to focus all our preparation and efforts thinking about competing in the Tour de France next year,” Bernal said.
“It is time to return to return to the path that we took in 2019 and from which we have separated a little.”
Bernal admitted earlier this month that his long-standing back issue had not entirely healed during this season and that medical treatment had formed part of his regular training and recovery schedule. However, he suggested to Mundo Ciclístico Magazine that the injury was now in the past.
“I think I have fully recovered, but nevertheless we have been monitoring the evolution through physiotherapy sessions, strengthening in the gym, and I’m hoping to start the cycling year and continue without anything that could affect my performance on the bike,” he said.
Bernal will remain in Colombia for training until the start of December, at which point he will travel to Europe to link up with his team for their first training camp in Spain.
By then, Thomas’ contract situation should be resolved and Ineos Grenadiers will be able to publicly rubber stamp Bernal’s Tour de France intentions.
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