The start of the Bernal era - INEOS star tipped for Tour dominance
Egan Bernal will dominate Grand Tours for years to come, potentially starting at the ongoing Tour de France, according to the man who gave him his senior break.
Team INEOS star Bernal was third in the general classification standings heading into Wednesday's 11th stage, trailing leader Julian Alaphilippe by one minute and 16 seconds.
Defending champion and INEOS team-mate Geraint Thomas is in second place, yet Gianni Savio, who brought Bernal through at his Androni Giocattoli Pro Continental team, is backing the Colombian.
Savio even suggests the 22-year-old will establish his own era in the near future.
"Egan can win the Tour de France, there's no doubt about that," Savio told Cyclingnews.
"I almost feel sorry for the other Grand Tour riders because we're witnessing the start of the Bernal era. I think he'll win this year's Tour and just get better and better.
"He's still only 22, but he's already reached a physical and mental maturity beyond his years. I've never met a rider like him in my 25 years in the sport.
"He's a great climber, a good time trial rider and he's shown he can even look after himself in echelons."
Savio believes Bernal will let his riding do the talking in the coming days.
"I noticed at the Tour de Suisse that Egan said he'd work for Thomas at the Tour de France if needed," he said. That's a sign he's intelligent and humble, while still ambitious.
"That's very important and an indication of his greatness. Other riders aren't like that and would have made wild claims about leadership.
"Egan's not like that because he knows he doesn't need to shout his mouth off at the Tour. You'll see in the mountains, his legs will do the talking."