Egan Bernal has started his 2023 season at the Vuelta a San Juan, and after a good winter of training he is eager to find out at what level he will be, and how high he can aim towards the Tour de France.
“The coming months will make it clear to me with what ambitions I can approach the Tour," Bernal said in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. “The Tour is and will remain the most important race of the year. I haven't raced there since 2020 and I also have to admit that I'm still a little scared at the moment, but I have such fond memories of that race. That's where it all exploded for me in 2019. That's exactly why I want to go there again."
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The Colombian has had his life and career almost ended exactly one year ago today as he hit a stationed bus during a training ride in Colombia. He's since returned to racing, and despite his very serious injuries, remains optimistic on his chances of returning to his best level.
At the Vuelta a San Juan he will have an important test, and he has to prove his injuries no longer hold him back. “That also means that I will first have to prove that I am ready," he aknowledges. "That won't be an easy job, because I want to do more than just be at the start. I still have a long way to go."
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Although the race lacks true mountainous terrain, the summit finish to Alto Colorado on stage 5 will be a good indicator for the INEOS Grenadiers rider. “I feel just as good at the moment as in those periods in 2019 and 2021," he added, after a good winter of training with long endurance rides.
"I train in the same way and that goes well, but there is still a difference between training and racing, of course. My values in training are similar to those of the same periods in my prime. It's just that it's still early in the season," Bernal concluded.