Last Friday, July 26, Egan Bernal conquered the Col de L’Iseran as if he were a French goat. He demonstrated in the Tour de France what he learned climbing the Colombian mountains, embossing on each curve his love for cycling. A love passed to him by his father and nurtured with the aspirations of an entire country.
Watching the replay of Stage 19 to write this blog, I imagined the radio conversation between Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, (2018 Tour Champion,) and David Brailsford, (Team Ineos General Manager.) This is the transcript I came up with:
Brailsford: Thomas, Alaphilippe is hurting. How are you?
Thomas: My legs are dying. Ask Egan.
Brailsford: Egan, how are your legs son?
Egal: Cool coach.
Brailsford: Then go on. Your turn has come to make Colombia’s dream come true.
The aggressive right exit maneuver made by Egan, followed by a brief look back confirming the approval of his fellow team leader to chase the tour’s leader spot, was Exhibit A for the concept “teamwork.”
Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal behaved more like brothers than competitors. Instead of holding on to his slim chance to repeat the result of the previous year, Thomas recognized the greatness in Egan’s young age and stepped aside to let him shine. In return, Egan displayed respect and humility.
From the beginning of this year’s tour, the specialized media criticized Brailsford’s decision of having two front runners. Nonetheless, the culture that his leadership has accomplished inside the English team (formerly known as Sky) has been the key factor to win seven Tour de France titles in the last ten years.
The Guardian published various statements after the award ceremony which are perfect examples of this dynamic. According to Geraint Thomas, “Egan’s got morals. Colombians are honest and family-oriented and I definitely feel that with Egan.“
Meanwhile, a smiling David Brailsford is seen wearing the yellow soccer Colombian jersey hugging Egan Bernal as if he were his son. Then he says on camera, “Viva Colombia! A new champion, a new ambassador, and what an ambassador, a brilliant ambassador!” (Watch the video)
Of all qualities, the Ineos GM highlighted Egan’s ability to remain calm and endure fatigue in the highest and most demanding stages of the competition. At the same time, Brailsford spoke about the future of the sport.
“This is the moment that could make Colombia one of the greatest cycling nations in the world,” he said. “Colombia could be to cycling what Brazil is to football. This victory can help make that happen.”
And if David Brailsford says it, you better believe it. Under his command, England won 14 cycling medals–eight golds–at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics following his training program that combines physiology, technology, and psychology.
Egan Bernal is not only an exceptional athlete but a lucky one as well. Destiny placed him on the route to a team that wanted to nurture his talent, and that beyond strategy has valued the wonderful human being that stole their hearts. Congratulations to the champion!
Thanks for reading and sharing.