Velonews first reported Bernal’s change of plans and Ineos Grenadiers have confirmed to Cyclingnews the 24-year-old Colombian's plans.
The British team moved to quash reports that Bernal’s change of plan was due to a return of his back problems that plagued him in 2020 and lead him to abandon the Tour de France. Bernal is expected to lead Ineos Grenadiers at the Giro d’Italia and possibly also ride the Tour de France in support of Geraint Thomas.
Bernal is one of several Grand Tour riders to opt to train at altitude rather than race in the final weeks before this year’s Giro d’Italia. Specific workouts and quality recovery time are considered to be more beneficial for some riders depending on their previous race programmes and fitness.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) told Italian website BiciPro he will do the same after riding last week’s Itzulia Basque Country and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is in a second block of altitude training in the Sierra Nevada in Spain as he works on his fitness after fracturing his pelvis fracture last summer at Il Lombardia. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he has opted to train at altitude rather than ride the Tour of the Alps or the Tour de Romandie.
Bernal had initially been announced for the Tour of the Alps and was expected to be surrounded by many of the riders who will also ride the Giro d’Italia. Pavel Sivakov is now likely to lead Ineos Grenadiers at the Tour of the Alps. Daniel Martinez and local resident Gianni Moscon are part of the team expected for the race.
The British team has traditionally used the Tour of the Alps as its final race for its corsa rosa squad, carrying out reconnaissance rides of key Giro d’Italia stages before and after the five-day race.
Despite the loss of Bernal, the Tour of the Alps includes a star-studded field, with 13 WorldTour teams on the start list.
Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet, Jai Hindley (DSM), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Nippo), Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates) and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) are all expected to ride.
The five-day race starts in Bressanone and heads into Austria before returning to Italy to finish in Riva del Garda overlooking Lake Garda.
Bernal has not raced since Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished fourth overall behind Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). He was also third at Strade Bianche, second at the Trofeo Laigueglia and third overall at the Tour de la Provence during an intense, 18-race block of racing.
He returned home to Colombia soon afterwards and he is expected to return to Europe and thus come down from altitude just a week or so before the Giro d’Italia starts in Turin on Saturday May 8.
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