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Rowe: Bernal's youth will not stop him grabbing Tour de France glory

Welsh road captain believes that Bernal has all the capabilites to become Colombia's first Tour de France winner

Joe Robinson
5 Jul 2019

Luke Rowe has responded to General Classification favourite Jakob Fuglsang's speculation that Egan Bernal is too young to win the Tour de France by stating that 'the race will do the talking'.

Talking at the Astana press conference earlier in the week, Fuglsang stated that Bernal may be too inexperienced for the yellow jersey considering he is only 22-years-old and that the Tour may not be as open as people are speculating if Geraint Thomas is on top form. 

Only his second Grand Tour following his debut in France a year ago, Bernal has set upon a meteoric rise in his first 18 months in the WorldTour that has seen him win three one-week stage races and helped guide Thomas to the Tour title in 2018.

On the eve of Stage 1 in Brussels, Rowe told the press that Bernal exudes the mentality of a 'natural born leader' and that the performances he saw first hand at Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse prove he is ready to fight at the Tour.

'He is old above his years, Rowe said of his young teammate. 'He has already won three WorldTour stage races, Tour of California, Tour de Suisse and Paris-Nice.

'Of the three races, Paris-Nice was the most impressive because the terrain covered everything. There were time trials, sprints, there were crosswinds, there were mountains, he covered it across all terrain.'

Rowe also cited the maturity of Bernal's performance on the final day of the recent Tour de Suisse.

'Look at that last day, he rode conservatively and rode the last climb to try and be with numbers. You could see he had the legs to attack but sat and waited. To be in that position and not to attack shows experience and maturity.'

Rowe is also impressed with Bernal's natural leadership, comparing him to the absent Chris Froome for sharing 'a tenacious, pitbull mentality' to win races.

'To work with, he is a natural leader, he is the kind of guy I want to work for and put everything on the plate for,' said Rowe. 'You have guys that have this natural aura, personality, which Bernal has.'

Bernal will race the Tour as co-leader alongside defending champion Thomas. However, those in the press conference would have noticed a palpable excitement for the prospects of Bernal over that of teammate Thomas. Regardless, the duo will start the 2019 Tour de France as co-leaders both on a level pegging ahead of the opening stage. 

Rather than the sharing of leadership responsibilities, you feel the biggest issue may be history which tells us that riders seldom win the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France in the same season.

In fact, it has only happened once in 1974 when Eddy Merckx won both, with many saying that the Tour de Suisse is too close to the Tour for a rider to contest the victory at both. 

If Bernal is going to win the Tour, he is going to have to repeat Merckx's feat.