Giro d'Italia 2021: Bradley Wiggins: Egan Bernal looked like 2019 vintage but questions remain
Speaking in the latest episode of his podcast, The Bradley Wiggins Show by Eurosport, former Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins has hailed the performance of Egan Bernal on Stage 9 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia. However, as Wiggins explains with the help of Orla Chennaoui, there are still question marks about the Colombian for the rest of the Grand Tour.
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“It isn’t a great sign,” Wiggins said when asked by host Graham Willgoss about the interview. “It shows that it’s on his mind constantly, that’s not a great thing to say for your competitors.”
Eurosport presenter Orla Chennaoui, who joined the podcast, echoed Wiggins’ sentiment.
"This has been the big thing for me.
Doing really well today is one thing but it gives us absolutely no indication as to how his back is actually doing and that’s what’s going to be the biggest test.
“We have still got no idea how his back is going to fare over the next two weeks.”
The pair agreed that sometimes Bernal’s humility, which endears him to pundits and the public, could hurt him because he’s never going to be someone to play mindgames. Chennaoui referenced an interview she did with the Colombian during lockdown saying that she was “blown away by how humble he is.”
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Willgoss then asked Wiggins whether it was perhaps too early for Ineos Grenadiers to take the jersey, but Wiggins rejected that suggestion.
"They don’t use terminology like ‘go and take the jersey’. It would have been ‘let’s put a plan together, see it through, commit to it, and see what result we get’.
“And that’s the way they ride, on the offensive. I wouldn’t say it’s too early.
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“You take the jersey when you take the jersey and play your cards on the day you need to play them in order to get the most time. And that’s a big statement of intent from Egan. They’re a man down with [Pavel] Sivakov gone so you’re looking at eight riders plus Bernal in the jersey. So you’re looking at six riders to ride for two weeks – that’s a long way.
It’s never too early and it’s never too late, as Chris Froome proved.
“You’ve got to take it when you can and I think he needs that confidence boost more than anything. He could have waited and waited and never realised it.”
Chennaoui agreed, pointing out that the question is completely different when you are talking about Ineos.
“Even when Attila Valter was in the pink jersey Ineos Grenadiers are setting the pace, they’re still trying to race it from the front. I don’t think it’ll be that different for them.”
Despite the strength of Ineos the pair both said that it is still anybody’s race. Both Wiggins and Chennaoui wondered whether Giulio Ciccone would have been hurt by having to come back to help Vincenzo Nibali. Wiggins said he thought Ciccone was “exceptional” given he’s riding for the GC for the first time.
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They also dismissed any suggestion that 21-year-old Remco Evenepoel is struggling in his first Grand Tour. Wiggins said if he can podium that would be his “rightful place,” adding that “if you take Bernal and Ciccone out then Remco’s right up there.”
Chennaoui said regarding the GC battle it’s more about not losing too much time then gaining it.
“With all the other contenders they’re all so close together it’s about not losing too much time, making sure you’re not losing too much whenever whoever it is goes off the front.
“Then it comes down to the last couple of stages in the third week and that’s what we want. We still have a top nine all within a minute of the lead so it really is anyone’s race.”
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