TOULOUSE, France (AFP) - Tour de France champion Egan Bernal has secured overall victory in the Route d’Occitanie, underlining his strength ahead of cycling’s most prestigious race which starts later this month.
Bernal, and Chris Froome, who Portal coached to Tour wins, lined up alongside team principal Dave Brailsford in a touching homage.
"This morning it was nice to share some time with Nico Portal’s family, they are part of our family,” said the lithe-looking Bernal.
The Colombian secured his win by finishing fourth Tuesday at the end of a 195km ride through the Causses de Quercy national park, a popular hiking destination known for its dramatic cliffside paths.
Bernal came in behind delighted French rider and stage winner Benoit Cosnefroy.
Team Ineos rider Bernal did enough to take the overall title, 19 seconds ahead of teammate Pavel Sivakov.
The pair pulled off an Ineos 1-2 on stage three Monday, gaining the time on the final mountain ascent that eventually secured the overall win.
The 23-year-old Bernal is favourite to win this season’s Tour, which was postponed to August 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, meanwhile, finished 37th as he continues his epic journey back to fitness.
The British rider ended nearly 10 minutes behind teammate Bernal, but did enough to suggest he could well be on the Tour roster.