Bernal wants 'important' Froome for Tour de France

Anne-Christine POUJOULAT
·2-min read
Chris Froome was returning to the race in which he suffered a serious accident last year

Tour de France champion Egan Bernal said on Wednesday he wants Ineos teammate and four-time winner Chris Froome alongside him at this year's race, as the Colombian finished third and the British rider a lowly 86th at Wednesday's opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine.

Reports in the French and Italian media over the weekend claimed Froome is a doubt to make Ineos' squad for the Grand Boucle which begins on August 29.

Froome, 35, who won the last of his Tour titles in 2017 and will join Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of the season, slowed down with less than four kilometres to go in eastern France and failed to keep up the pace with the peloton.

"He's a rider who has a lot of experience. For sure, to have a seven-time Grand Tour winner in the team is something important. So yes, for sure I would like to have him in the team," Bernal told British broadcaster ITV.

"I'm feeling good but we'll see tomorrow and during the week. But as we always say the most important thing is to arrive well at 'le Tour' that will be our biggest goal," Bernal added.

Jumbo-Visma's Wout Van Aert followed up his Milan-Sanremo victory on Sunday by pipping the third-placed Colombian in a sprint finish near Saint-Etienne with South African Daryl Impey in second.

This season's Dauphine has been shortened and moved due to the coronavirus pandemic with Froome, who finished 5min 23sec behind Van Aert, returning to a race which almost finished his career last year when he had a serious accident.

"Apparently I have good legs. I came to the hotel really tired yesterday and the team still did a perfect job for me today," Van Aert told France Televisions.

Thursday's 135-kilometre second stage heads from the town of Vienne up to the Col de Porte and includes three steep climbs.

Stage result: 

1. Wout Van Aert (BEL/JUM) 5hr 27min 42sec, 2. Daryl Impey (RSA/MIT) same time, 3. Egan Bernal (COL/INE) s.t, 4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t, 5. Tadej Pogacar (SLO/UAE) s.t, 6. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ/ASY) s.t, 7. Sergio Higuita (COL/EF1) s.t, 8. Benoit Cosnefroy (FRA/ALM) s.t, 9. Primoz Roglic (SLO/JUM) s.t, 10. Guillaume Martin (FRA/COF) s.t

Selected others

18. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) s.t, 19. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) s.t, 22. Tom Dumoulin (NED/JUM) s.t, 23. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/JUM) s.t, 26. Geraint Thomas (GBR/INE) s.t, 86. Chris Froome (GBR/INE) 5 mins 33 sec