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Team Sky’s new star (21) drops Quintana, Uran for first big win

Posted on: February 11th, 2018

Team Sky Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal Team Sky: Is this the Team Sky star who’ll take over from Chris Froome? He’s just 21-years-old but he’s just attacked Nairo Quintana, dropped him climbing and taken overall victory from him. After a fantastic final stage in Colombia Egan Arley Bernal is the outright winner. Above, flanked by Quintana, left, and Rigoberto Uran.

 

Team Sky new star Egan Bernal (21) drops Quintana, Uran

 

With its undisputed leader of recent years, Chris Froome, on the ropes at present, Team Sky’s new star has taken his first big win.

Colombian Egan Bernal stepped up to WorldTour level with Team Sky during the off season.

And while he has a huge palmares already, including dominating the Tour de l’Avenir last year, he has now beaten off Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran for his first really big victory.

It came in the six-stage Colombia Ora y Paz (2.1) stage race which finished today in Manizales. He also took the young rider and climbers’ classifications for his efforts; an impressive haul.

Quintana (Movistar) held the race lead going into the final day; by three seconds from Uran (EF-Drapac)

Team Sky’s Sergio Luis Henao was 3rd another one second back. And Bernal was next some 9 seconds off the overall lead.

On an action-packed final stage, with a testing uphill finish, Dayer Quintana took victory on the day for Movistar.

Just 10 seconds behind came the Team Sky pairing of Sebastian Henao and Bernal; the latter attacking in the final 3km to drop his main rivals.

And when Nairo Quintana and Uran finished 22 seconds back; the outright win passed to Egan Bernal.

 

 

It was a huge result for him considering the opposition he beat; and in the home country of the top riders.

And while Team Sky recently said it would take a number of seasons before Bernal could win at WorldTour level as he had done as a junior and U23; success has come instantly.

Whether he can keep that up and how he will fair in the Grand Tours, for example, will be very interesting.

“I felt very good all day long and I kept telling the guys: ‘I feel good, I feel good!’” he said after the stage.

“But I had to keep calm and wait for the tougher last kilometres.  The last three or four kilometres were tougher and I decided to attack.

“I was fourth on GC so I didn’t have a lot to lose but I had everything to gain.

“I tried, I gave everything and finally I got a little advantage. I’d two teammates in the break and they did an amazing job!”

He added Sebastian Henao and Tao Geoghegan Hart were key to helping him stay clear.

“I was telling Tao: ‘Tao, Tao, it’s so hard, you have to slow down!’ He helped me almost until the last metres.

“The most important thing was to win the GC and not the stage. Of course, it would have been better to win both but the idea was to win the GC.

“So, my teammates waited for my attack. That’s why I feel so proud and happy with this team. They supported me and did incredible work.”

 

Team Sky Egan Bernal

Team Sky Egan Bernal

Team Sky Egan Bernal

 

The final 187.8km stage saw a group of around 30 riders go clear. Geoghegan Hart and Sebastian Henao were among them and that proved crucial for Team Sky.

Inside the final 50km the gap between peloton and breakaway was around three minutes.

But as the final climb to the finish began the pressure went on. The breakaway began to split and its advantaged narrowed.

Up front Nairo Quintana would eventually ride to a lone victory. But when Bernal attack from what remained of the peloton neither race leader Quintana nor Uran could go with him.

The young Colombian caught his two team mates who had been clear for most of the stage.

They helped him virtually all the way to the finish. And after an anxious wait to see how much time he had gained on his rivals, Egan Bernal was declared race winner.

He won the Colombian TT championships 10 days ago and was 5th in the Tour Down Under overall.

“The Tour Down Under was warm and fast and ended well,” he said today of his preparations for his latest win.

“Then the national time trial title gave me a bit of confidence. I also felt good during the road race that Sergio won.

“I think that everything was going in the right direction. I’d come here with the idea to do the best I could.”

He added he was delighted to take such a big victory on home roads.

“This race gave me the opportunity to race in my country, in my homeland, in front of my fellow Colombians. It’s an honour.

“This race is very positive for the country and I hope that more teams will come in the future.”

 

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