Egan Bernal is a Colombian cyclist that leads the Tour de France with just two stages to go. He fought through hail to storm into the lead after Stage 19 Friday. The 22-year-old started the day 90 seconds behind Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, but ended up 45 seconds ahead after Friday in the Alps.
The inclement weather forced a new route around the mountains near Albertville, but there still exists some substantial climbing for the penultimate stage on Saturday. This is Bernal’s wheelhouse, however, and a main reason he is favored to take home the first Tour de France title in South American history.
This would net him €500,000 (over $557 thousand in U.S. dollars) of prize money. It would be the biggest payday of his career from a race, as he has also brought home victories at the following tournaments:
- Tour de Suisse 2019
- Paris – Nice 2019
- Amgen Tour of California 2018
- Sibiu Cycling Tour 2017
- Colombia Oro y Paz 2018
According to The Guardian, his main source of income is £2.4 million ($2.97 million) earned through his contract with Team INEOS (Team Sky). The 5-year deal is worth £12 million ($14.8 million) overall.
“I know five years is a long time and that it’s not too common in cycling, but the team has been great for me,” Bernal said when he signed the contract in Oct. 2018. “They offer me everything I could want and I’m excited about the future.”
His Victory is Almost Guaranteed at This Point, Leading Him Close to Making History
Bernal was born on January 13, 1997 in Zipaquirá, which is a city about 47km northeast of the capital city of Bogota. As a Colombian, he could be the first South American to win the Tour de France.
While Spain has the third-most champions with seven cyclists winning 12 titles, no other Spanish-speaking nation has produced a champion. France naturally has the most with 23 individuals taking home 36 championships, although no Frenchman was won since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
The impeding historic moment for Bernal has hit him emotionally, particularly when he donned his first yellow jersey after Stage 19.
“I was going at full speed, I attacked, and then was told to stop,” Bernal told French television according to Cycling Tips. “‘No! Not now!’ I was told that the race was stopped, and when it was explained that I was a leader and I had the yellow jersey, I did not believe it. The road was dry but we could not to continue the race due to the state of the road, but at the moment it was very weird. What matters is that I have the yellow jersey. It was a dream for me. Tomorrow there is still a very hard stage, but when I was given the yellow jersey and the lion, I really wanted to cry. I still cannot believe it.”