It’s a look that says: “I emerged from my mother’s womb with these huge lungs, this massively efficient physiology, and the killer instinct of a hungry fox in an unguarded chicken coop.”
It goes on to clarify: “…following my birth, where I popped out, blinking, in a perfect aero tuck, I began an immediate milk-based hydration strategy and have maintained pristine, hair free legs to this day. As a toddler my first foray into solid food involved pasta and I insisted on an espresso machine next to my cot. My basic needs were met not by parents but by a pair of committed (and very loving) soigneurs.”
In short Egan Bernal was, like van der Poel, Sagan, and Merckx, born to be a bike rider.
Right now, late June 2019, pre Tour de France, it seem the world is bending to his will.
First, team leader Chris Froome crashed and will miss the Tour. Then team leader Mk II Geraint Thomas hit the deck in Switzerland to find himself in the road, stars in his eyes and cartoon birds fluttering around his head, and out of the Tour de Suisse.Embed from Getty Images
Bernal seized team leadership and squeezed the life out of his rivals with his tiny Colombian hands (and his hugely powerful heart and lungs); winning in the mountains, and minimising losses in the TT, to take the Tour de Suisse title.
We should be careful about projecting the trajectory of young Egan’s career, but it doesn’t take much imagination to picture him as a major player in the forthcoming Tour.
Thomas will be there, in France, though perhaps a little under-raced. Bernal will also have a whole cast of others to cope with – Quintana, Porte, Landa, Fuglsang, Bardet, Pinot, (though not the injured Dumoulin) – in an altogether higher class of bike race.
Pre Tour de France Bernal said of Geraint Thomas: “he will be our leader. I will try to help him. If he’s better than me, then for sure I will help him.”
If he’s better than me.
Innocent words, I’m sure, but could it be that the truth is right there in that if?
The Colombian fox has found his way into the chicken coup. The birds are beginning to flap and panic. I think he’s got his eye on more than just a few eggs.