Egan Bernal opts for French programme before Tour de France defence
Egan Bernal Training in Colombia
Egan Bernal will return to Europe from Colombia on July 19 and drive the Route de Occitaine, the Tour de l'Ain and the Critérium du Dauphiné in August before starting the Tour de France on August 29 as head of the Ineos team.
The Tour de France 2019 winner has been in Colombia since March, when he went home when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic brought the world to its knees. He respected the strict blackout rules in Colombia and drove in the hall for a few weeks before the mayor of his hometown Zipaquirá gave him and other local professionals permission to exercise outdoors in late April.
Since then, Bernal has increased his riding and completed a number of long rides, which he has called "apocalipsis". They included multiple trips over seven hours.
Colombia blocked all commercial flights until late August to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, Colombian professional drivers have received special permission from the Ministry of Sport and the Colombian Cycling Federation to fly to Europe for the new season.
The Colombian association is hoping for a charter flight to bring the drivers to the Tour de France
Contador: Bernal could double the Giro Tour in 2021
Froome, Bernal and Thomas all said they should prepare for the Tour de France tour
Team Ineos' long list of the 10-man Tour de France
According to recent reports, around 50 drivers will take a specially arranged charter flight from Colombia to Madrid on Sunday, July 19. The European Union has declared that other nations can fly to Europe from July 1st. Drivers must demonstrate that this is not the case. They have the COVID-19 virus, but do not have to quarantine when they arrive in Europe.
Bernal has not raced since the Tour Colombia race in mid-February after the Ineos team decided not to race in Paris-Nice due to the risk of COVID-19 and the sudden death of sports director Nicolas Portal.
Several sources have confirmed that Bernal will return to the competition early and will do 12 race days before the Tour de France after completing most of his key high altitude training in Colombia. He will initially be stationed at high altitude in Andorra, but will move to Monaco at some point in the year.
Bernal starts the newly planned 2020 season on the mountainous La Route d'Occitanie in south-western France from August 1 to 4 and then drives the Tour de l'Ain (August 7 to 9) in eastern France. He will likely stay in the area to reconstruct several major Tour de France stages in the Alps and then drive the Critérium du Dauphiné (August 12-16). Drivers will gather in Nice on Wednesday, August 26th, before the first road stage around Nice begins on August 29th.
Team Ineos has not yet confirmed Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome's racing programs, but both of them will likely want to drive the Critérium du Dauphiné after completing important altitude blocks.
According to Cyclingnews sources, Team Ineos has compiled a long list of ten drivers for the Tour de France squad with eight drivers, including Michał Kwiatkowski, Pavel Sivakov, Dylan Van Baarle, Luke Rowe, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Andrey Amador and Jonathan Castroviejo as well on the long list.
Frome's presence in the Team Ineos Tour de France lineup could depend on his future in the team.
He no longer has a contract and Team Ineos has yet to submit a detailed offer. Cyclingnews announced in mid-May that Froome was being contacted about a possible mid-season transfer to guarantee Tour de France leadership. A decision about his future is expected in the week.
Italian website Tuttobici suggested that the new WorldTour squad Israel Start-Up Nation is ready to offer the British a three-year deal and sign it mid-season so that he can lead the team on its Tour de France debut.
Every step would require the approval of Team Ineos manager Dave Brailsford, and whether he would be willing to let Froome leave before Tour France and thus become an important rival is unclear.
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