The young Colombian will lead a Grand Tour for the first time when the Giro starts in Bologna on May 6.
A race close to his heart, Bernal, 21, said: “The Giro is a race that I really, really like. I lived in Italy for three years, so I have a lot of friends there and I really like the Italian fans. I know the roads, I really like the Giro, and I want to do a good race there.”
Bernal has more than earned the chance to lead a Grand Tour following a sensational 2018 – not that he saw such a successful year coming.
“I didn’t expect to have such a season,” he admitted. “When I arrived here, at the best team in the world, I didn’t expect to go to the Tour or win in California, a WorldTour race. I thought I would just learn and no more. I didn’t expect any results and then they came.
“My best moment was the Tour. I won California, a stage in Romandie, but the Tour is the most important race in cycling.”
And it was at the Tour where Bernal feels he learned the most in 2018, particularly from teammate Chris Froome.
“I would say that I learned the most from Froomey, in the Tour. I was next to him in the bus and I was always looking at him! At how he takes notes on paper, how he talks in the meetings on the bus, and I was almost always behind him in the race, so I was looking at what he did. I learned a lot from him. It was really good.”
It’s at home and I want to do a good race for the fans, for my family, and for Colombia. It’s incredible how the fans support us and it’s right at home.
The Colombian will start his season alongside Froome once again, as defending champion at his home race, the Tour Colombia.
“I’m really excited to do the Tour Colombia. It will be the first race with Froomey there so we want to do it well! It’s at home and I want to do a good race for the fans, for my family, and for Colombia. It’s incredible how the fans support us and it’s right at home. It will be good.”
Also lining up with Bernal and Froome in Medellin will be new signing Ivan Sosa – a close friend of Bernal’s.
He added: “Ivan is my friend. I shared a year with him in Androni and I won the Tour de l’Avenir with him. He was a really good teammate and to stay with him in this team is really special, because it was our dream to maybe someday be together in another team and now the dream has come true.
“It’s nice to stay with him in the same room and talk about other friends, Colombia, speak in Spanish, and he’s really excited to be here with Froomey, G, Kwiato etc. His first impressions of the team are really good. I am really happy for him and I am sure he will have a really good season.”