Land of opportunity

January 8 th 2020 - 12:00

Only the future will tell if we witnessed the emergence of a cycling master this past March on the slopes leading to the Col de Turini. These bends, where the careers of rally drivers where forged in the Monte Carlo Rally, also served as a springboard for an ambitious kid chasing after his first prestigious race on European soil. After wearing yellow at Turini and on the Promenade des Anglais, Egan Bernal was crowned victorious a few months later, sporting an even more impressive yellow jersey on the podium of the Champs-Elysées.

“I really started to think that I could win the Tour after my victory at Paris-Nice”, the first Colombian winner of the Grand Boucle admitted with hindsight, knowing that a champion’s path is marked by milestones representing a turning point or stages of progress. The title holder’s analysis echoes the words of other Tour winners, such as Geraint Thomas or even Alberto Contador, who also expressed in similar terms the decisive role of confidence gained in the Race to the Sun.

The lessons learned at the beginning of the season on the French Riviera are by no means premonitions, but a starting point that is always useful in revving up for the Tour de France: days spent facing the wind, testing yourself against the clock, demonstrating your mountain skills early, as well as how calm you are under pressure during descents, will serve as benchmarks in July when it’s 20 degrees warmer. This year, the imaginary bridge linking the two events will be all the more apparent as Nice plays host to the Grand Départ of the Tour.

The fight for the accolades at Paris-Nice, at La Colmiane in particular, will play out as a high-intensity prelude. The expectations set for the Alpes-Maritimes roads are higher than usual...

Christian Prudhomme

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