Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) has argued that, should racing resume this summer, it would be better to try and delay the Tour de France from its usual July slot to ensure that all the favourites can reach it in similar condition.
"This enforced stop is affecting all of us, even for the Tour de France if it happens in July because one or another contender may not be up to it for then as their build-ups will be different," the defending Tour champion said during a Instagram live session organised by the Colombian Cycling Federation.
"It could be better if it was delayed."
In Bernal's case, he is not training right now, "neither mentally nor physically. I had a good build-up for Paris-Nice, then I went on the rollers when I got back to Colombia. But afterwards, I decided with the trainer that it would be for the best to rest up right now.
"There are still some 15 days left to go before April 13th" - when the 19-day lockdown in Colombia currently ends. Bernal is currently very active on campaigning on social media for people to stay at home and respect the lockdown, but as for his strategy when the time comes to get moving again, "I'd prefer to get training [at home] for five or six days, then start riding. You won't lose what you've done since December [by] resting up, doing one or two hours on the turbo and then going out on the road."
In the Federation interview, Bernal would not be drawn on the idea of whether he thought a Tour behind closed doors was a good idea or not, saying that there had been no real clarity yet as to whether it was feasible.
As for cycling's Grand Tours in 2020, Bernal said, "for the good of cycling, for the sponsors who invest a lot of money and who are taking a hit with the lockdown, I hope they happen.
"If they don't take place, it would be very serious, but we have to see how this all evolves. What's clear is that the world has to go on and this [Covid-19] has to end at some point."
Bernal also paid tribute in his Colombian Federation interview to Nico Portal, Team Ineos and Team Sky director who died of a heart attack recently aged 40. "We had a great deal of confidence in him because of the way he made us feel so calm during races. "
"Thanks to him we could keep everything together for the key moments. It's going to affect us seriously, it's a great loss. On a personal level, I still have trouble believing it's happened."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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