Freeman Cebu Sports

Tour de France 2019: Colombia wins its first Tour

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

Egan Bernal, a 22yo kid from Zipaquirá, Colombia won a historic first in the annals of the Tour de France- the first Colombian and South American to do so, the second youngest winner in TdF History.

For Egan, the world is at his feet. The “Bernal Age”, as what the former most successful professional Tour Director Johann Bruyneel said in a podcast, has just began.

If you have looked at the Tour on a stage by stage basis, it would look as if the best rider was either was French, Thibaut Pinot (who had to eave the race after a muscle tear he got from freak handlebar injury) or the surprising swashbuckler, Julian Alaphilippe. But alas, France would have to wait for another year for one of their own to have another crack to win the Tour, not since Bernard Hinault won the last for the Motherland in 1985.

Team INEOS was penned to win the Tour this year, and they had two of the best- 4x champion Chris Froome and defending champion Geraint Thomas. But Froome broke his leg and Thomas had a suspicious warm up and so they added their champion in waiting, Bernal.

And INEOS was criticized, deservingly, after it announced that both Thomas and Bernal would be co-leaders. In most cases, double leaders usually don’t work and INEOS know both sides. The first was in 2012 when Sir Bradley Wiggins was almost usurped by his young teammate Froome. Wiggins, the old lion back then, never came back to defend his crown and would fade into the background. Last year, it was Froome’s turn when he had to give way to Thomas, and while superficially it was “tranquilo” between them, we don’t know what went inside Froome’s head. Of course, Froome wasn’t at his best because a few weeks ago, he had just win a difficult Giro d’Italia, after he was paid at least a million Euros to just show up.

Everybody was expecting problems between Bernal and Thomas but it seems that Bernal, unlike his compatriot, Nairo Quinata, was respectful and humble in relation to leadership hierarchy. Also, INEOS team principal Dave Brailsford, I’m sure wasn’t going to allow that rivalry especially with the lessons learned in 2012.So the chances of any internal squabble was laid to rest.

A lot of pundits said that this Tour was the most exciting in years (The most exciting for me was in 1989 and 2003 edition) but I would say that if Thibaut Pinot was able to continue (I’m not surprised that Pinot was not able to continue, he always lacked that mental consistency in his career) and that if stages 19 and 20 were not truncated (the organizers had a very good reason to do so and that is rider safety), I’m sure I’d be writing a different story and that France would most likely be having its first Yellow Jersey since 1985 and that team INEOS would be crucified.

But that’s the beauty of sports, its unpredictability. Who would have thought that a Colombian (a third world country much like ours) would have a grand Tour winner  when they woke up, instead of dreaming that one day we Filipinos would have someone who’d suit up for the NBA!

Viva, Egan Bernal! Viva Colombia!

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