Egan Bernal has lost his "air of invincibility” ahead of Il Giro, according to Eurosport’s Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Bernal has had an injury-interrupted past 12 months, having abandoned Le Tour in 2020 with a back injury that continues to trouble him today. He told La Gazzeta dello Sport this week that he still feels the pain of his injury and will be taking the Giro ‘day by day’. Ineos also announced that Pavel Sivakov will be their joint leader for the Giro, further undermining confidence in the Colombian.
In recent days, Bernal has also tumbled out of the favourite spot with the bookies and now sits behind Simon Yates as tipsters’ choice for maglia rosa glory
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In an exclusive interview for Eurosport UK, the Tour de France winner suggested Bernal’s place in the Ineos pecking order might have changed since last season.
I think it’s wide open this year. When earlier this year intentions were announced that Bernal would be doing the Giro, Bernal doesn’t have that air of invincibility that he had a few years ago.
“[Then], when he turned up at a race it was almost a done deal. There’s chinks in his armour now. [Geraint Thomas] is now looking every bit the leader of that team on an overall basis.”
Wiggins also compared the hype around the young Colombian rider - or lack thereof - pre-Giro to the hype in the year he won the Tour de France.
“I think once that air of invincibility goes, that air of grace, people perceive that they are beatable. The hype around Bernal going into this race hasn’t been like it was in the past or like it would have been a year ago. I think there are question marks about his fragility, his ability to last three weeks – and that’s a Tour winner.”
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Wiggins explained that he believes the decision to send Bernal to the Giro and Thomas to the Tour was the right one on the part of Ineos’ leadership.
Bernal has made his claim for the Giro this year leaving things wide open for G for the Tour. And rightly so… G has already proved he’s in a place to win the Tour again, his second Tour.
Wiggins also suggested that missing the Tour in 2020 might have helped Thomas in his pursuit of a second Tour de France victory.
“You have to say, Bernal going to the Giro, having taken the Tour leadership and failed – albeit through injury – it’s kind of like G’s been given that mantle again, really. Sometimes it’s best to miss a race, rather than go there and fail – which is what G did last year. They said he didn’t have the form for the Tour and he went to the Giro.”
The Giro begins on Saturday with a prologue in Turin, and Wiggins tipped another Ineos rider to take the first maglia rosa of the 2021 edition.
“You have Filippo Ganna in the prologue. You cant see anyone beating him in the prologue.”
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