Tour de France: Egan Bernal can make Colombia ‘one of the greatest cycling nations’
Egan Bernal is the toast of his country after becoming the first man from a Latin American nation to win the Tour de France, and his team boss Dave Brailsford says the young star’s success could start something big in Colombia.
The 22-year-old ensured that victory would be his by riding stronger than his closest rivals on the Alpine stages, before safely negotiating the 21st stage into Paris and finishing more than a minute ahead of team-mate Geraint Thomas.
Described by Team Ineos boss, Dave Brailsford, as “the new Chris Froome,” the third-youngest winner of the Tour de France could now “make Colombia one of the greatest cycling nations in the world,” Brailsford (who wore a Colombian football shirt in honor of his rider) suggested.
“Colombia could now be to cycling what Brazil is to football.”
The youngest winner of the tour since WWII has made countless people proud and happy back in his homeland, with thousands gathered in Bernal’s hometown of Zipaquira to watch him triumph in the final stage, and fans across the country, including President Ivan Duque, who watched from a cafe on Friday, celebrating what is seen as a victory for the entire nation.
There were also euphoric scenes in Paris, where many Colombians turned out to cheer on their man.
Bernal’s rise to fame and success from humble beginnings in the Andean mountains resonates with many poorer Colombians, who see him as a symbol of hope, as well as with the cycling-mad middle class in a country where the sport is a national passion.
And with fellow Colombians Rigoberto Uran and Nairo Quintana finishing the Tour de France in seventh and eighth places respectively, the future for Colombian riding, as Bernal’s team boss Brailsford predicts, certainly looks bright.