22-year-old Colombian cyclist Egan Bernal became the strongest force in the Tour De France in 2019, making history as the first ever Latin American winner — and the youngest winner since 1909.
Bernal comes from a humble background in Bogota, the child of a Salt Cathedral employee and a flower factory worker. He started cycling aged five, and by nine had won a training scholarship through a race in his hometown. Bernal’s initial focus was mountain biking, winning races in Brazil, Costa Rica, and the US, and earning silver and bronze at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
In 2018 he joined Team Sky (now known as Team INEOS), a British-based team set up in 2010 which dominated the decade by winning the Tour de France seven times. In February 2018 Bernal won the Colombian National Time Trial Championships then went on to win the first edition of the Tour Colombia. That year, he rode the Tour de France as a supporter, or ‘domestique’ for team Sky leaders Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. He was the youngest participant in the race.
In 2019, as Froome was injured, he was elevated to co-leader of the team. His success makes him the third-youngest General Classification winner ever.
As Bernal rode into the Champs-Elysees, after sipping champagne on the 79-mile stage from Rambouillet to Paris, crowds of people gathered in his hometown of Zipaquira in the Plaza of Hope to watch on a giant screen.
Bernal has converted into something of a symbol for the whole of Colombia — but as a report by Die Welt makes clear, those who know him best think he will return to the town and continue to act as normal, enjoying a glass of fizzy water and Roscon, the sweet round bread popular in the country.Tags: Colombia, Cycling, Spot