He did not cross the road first, however Egan Bernal nonetheless ended the day acclaimed like a winner. Stage 3 of the Tour Colombia produced a high-altitude slugging match on the arduous circuit round Tunja, and Bernal withstood the blows in addition to anyone. He landed a number of, too, as he grew extra daring within the closing kilometres.
Though Bernal finally needed to accept fifth on a stage gained by Colombian champion Alejandro Osorio (GW Erco Shimano), his presence was nonetheless required on the rostrum afterwards.
The voting system for the every day Premio de la afición here’s a nebulous one, however there have been no complaints from the multitudes on Tunja’s Avenida Universitaria when Bernal was introduced because the followers’ favorite for stage 3. A chant rose as he stepped onto the dais: “E-gan! E-gan! E-gan!”
The race ignited on the penultimate lap, and Bernal was to the fore each time the entrance group splintered and reformed thereafter, finally becoming a member of the successful break of eight. Osorio and new yellow jersey Rodrigo Contreras (Nu Colombia) slipped away on the final to contest the stage honours, however Bernal got here house simply behind them with Rigoberto Urán and Ivan Sosa, gaining 11 seconds on the remainder of the GC favourites.
“It was a really laborious stage, and an important one,” Bernal mentioned when he reached the blended zone afterwards. “It was actually kicking off all day, there was numerous nervousness and so everyone wished to be in entrance, clearly. The final lap was actually tough and when you had a little bit extra there, you could possibly make the distinction.”
Bernal initially most well-liked to comply with because the successful transfer took form, as if not sure of his potential to final the tempo, however his activates the entrance grew longer because the end line drew nearer. A bronze medal eventually month’s Colombian championships was Bernal’s first podium end since his life-threatening coaching crash in January 2022, and his efficiency in Tunja on Thursday marked one other step ahead.
“Little by little, I am gaining confidence,” Bernal mentioned. “On a stage like right this moment, you need to keep in entrance, you need to struggle on your place all day to be up there within the ultimate. That offers me confidence. Little by little, we’re recovering.”
Bernal is competing right here for the Colombian nationwide staff, having been launched for worldwide obligation by Ineos Grenadiers. Brandon Rivera, additionally of Ineos, is the one different WorldTour rider within the line-up, and Bernal defined that they could not race with the identical abandon as EF Training-EasyPost, who despatched Richard Carapaz, Andrea Piccolo and Urán up the street at numerous factors within the finale.
“I believe EF have a really sturdy staff with some riders at a excessive stage, riders who go nicely at this altitude,” Bernal mentioned. “Because the nationwide staff, now we have to be clever and select our moments, however now we have a superb staff. I believe the youthful lads did nice work at the beginning, and within the ultimate with Jhonatan Restrepo, Brandon and me, we had been in a position to comply with the strikes. I did not win the stage, however I believe I am bettering.”
Bernal now lies twelfth within the total standings, 30 seconds behind the yellow jersey Contreras, and 10 forward of fellow favourites Carapaz and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). The race visits his native Zipaquirá on Friday, although it is in contrast to that that the person who grew up within the barrio of Bolívar 93 would be the fore in his hometown. “It is a flat stage, so I will be blissful to complete within the peloton,” he mentioned. “However a thousand issues may occur, so you need to watch out.”
The true check will come on the penultimate day, after all, when the race climbs for the ultimate 30km to the summit of the mighty Alto del Vino. “At the moment wasn’t a stage the place you had been going to win the race, but it surely was one the place you could possibly have misplaced it,” Bernal mentioned. “Ending up entrance right this moment offers me extra confidence for the Alto del Vino, however I believe the variations there will probably be in minutes somewhat than in seconds.”