Egan Bernal says he was “lucky” to not lose time on a stage where other Tour de France GC contenders lost more than a minute, as the defending champion gears up for the first proper mountain test in the Pyrenees this weekend.
“It was very fast all day,” Bernal said after stage seven. “In the end, the team worked really well. We stayed in the group and we saved the day. We are lucky because you can lose a lot on stages like this, like what happened to Pogačar.”
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) all lost a minute and 20 seconds as Ineos drove the pace on the front of the peloton through crosswinds into the finish in Lavaur, while Richard Carapaz (Ineos) then suffered an unfortunately timed puncture.
“We thought there would be tension but not as much as that,” Bernal added. “We never stopped all day, and finally we had an opportunity, tried to split the groups and we got that, so that was good.
“The Tour isn’t won in a day like this but you have to make the most of these terrains.”
Bernal heads into the Pyrenees in fourth on GC, 13 seconds behind race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and 10 seconds behind Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič.
“These are going to be two complicated stages. After the races today and yesterday, they were pretty hard too,” Bernal said, before adding he expects action between the overall contenders to finally kick off on stages eight and nine.
“Right now we are taking it day by day and we’ll see how the legs are going. For sure something will happen and we have to be ready.
“We’re very concentrated, and we’re in a good position. As always, go day by day, and if there’s an opportunity, we’ll try to take advantage of it.”