PARIS – Colombian climber Egan Bernal wrapped up victory in the Tour de Suisse on Sunday in the perfect warm-up for his tilt at next month’s Tour de France.
The Team Ineos rider, who is the bookmakers’ second favourite for the Tour de France behind teammate and reigning champion Geraint Thomas, finished third in the 101.5km final stage around Goms to secure the title.
“It’s one of the biggest races that I’ve won. I’m really happy and it gives me a lot of confidence for the next races,” Bernal, who missed the Giro d’Italia after suffering an injury in training, told teamineos.com.
“Just before the race I had a big crash and I could not go to the Giro. So to come here and to win is really nice for me and the team.”
The 22-year-old Bernal topped the overall standings by 19 seconds ahead of Rohan Dennis, after tracking every move of the Bahrain-Merida man on Sunday, with the Australian finishing second on the day.
Britain’s Hugh Carthy took the ninth-stage honours after a solo ride saw him cross the line a minute and two seconds before Bernal and Dennis.
Bernal rode last year’s Tour de France in support of Chris Froome, but this year is expected to be a title contender himself after the four-time champion was ruled out with injuries sustained in a horrific crash at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Welshman Thomas pulled out of the Tour de Suisse after crashing on stage four, but will be fit for the start of the second Grand Tour of 2019 on July 6.
Bernal took full advantage, seizing the advantage on the sixth stage in Switzerland, before winning the seventh stage and putting in a solid performance in Saturday’s time trial.AFP