Tour de France: Egan Bernal ‘much better’ after back injury, plus team selections round-up

Cycling
Egan Bernal

Defending champion Egan Bernal says pain from a back injury is bothering him on the eve of the Tour de France.

However, the Colombian was forced to withdraw early from the Criterium du Dauphine on 15 August with a bad back.

“I hope during the Tour to be working hard and trying to recover, especially for the last week,” said Bernal.

“I feel a little bit of pain in the back to be honest.

“I’m much better than I was in the Dauphine; in the Dauphine it was really bad, the pain. But I’m feeling much better.”

Bernal, the youngest Tour winner for 110 years, remains one of the favourites for La Grand Boucle this time around.

He put in a strong performance to win La Route d’Occitanie and finished second in the Tour de l’Ain earlier in August, but the 21-stage race contains a number of other contenders for the yellow jersey.

Riders and number of victories Years champion
Jacques Anquetil (Fra) 5 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963 & 1964
Eddy Merckx (Bel) 5 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 & 1974
Bernard Hinault (Fra) 5 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 & 1985
Miguel Indurain (Spa) 5 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 & 1995
Chris Froome (GB) 4 2013, 2015, 2016 & 2017

Team selection round-up

Jumbo-Visma’s star-studded eight-man squad is expected to provide the main opposition to Bernal and Ineos despite the absence of the injured Steven Kruijswijk.

Slovenia’s world number one and 2019 Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic lines up for the Dutch team alongside fellow Grand Tour winner Tom Dumoulin.

And the pair will also have Sepp Kuss, Tony Martin and Wout van Aert in support.

Fourth in 2019, Germany’s Emanuel Buchmann is also on the start listexternal-link for Bora-Hansgrohe alongside the talented Peter Sagan, who has claimed the green jersey for the points classification a record seven times.

Tour de France map

France’s main hopes for a first Tour winner since 1985 seem to rest with Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot.

Alaphilippe, 28, who headlines the Deceuninck-QuickStep squad, led the 2019 edition of the race for 14 stages before finishing fifth overall.

A thigh injury saw Pinot, 30, withdraw on a dramatic stage 19 to Tignes on the 2019 Tour while in fifth place but a second-placed finish at the Dauphine in August suggests he is hitting form.

Colombia’s former Giro and Vuelta champion Nairo Quintana leads an Arkea Samsic team containing 24-year-old British Tour debutant Connor Swift.

Fellow Briton Adam Yates is aiming for stage successes with Michelton-Scott before linking up with Ineos next season.

Former Ineos domestique Wout Poels will ride in support of Spain’s Mikel Landa on the Bahrain McLaren team, while Slovenia’s promising 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar will take his place next to Italy’s Fabio Aru on UAE Team Emirates.

Newcomers Israel Start-Up Nation, who Britain’s four-time champion Chris Froome joins next season, will be led by Dan Martin and Andre Greipel as they target stage victories.

They become the first Israeli team to ride the Tour, while Guy Niv will be the first Israeli rider to compete in cycling’s biggest race.

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