Egan Bernal has pulled out of this weekend’s Colombian national road race championships admitting his knee injury is still a concern, as he prepares to travel to Europe for a key part of his 2023 season.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider was due to ride the time trial event on Thursday but could only watch on from the roadside and join the podium ceremony as Miguel Angel Lopez (Team Medellin) was a surprise winner on the hilly parcours. Lopez beat teammate Walter Vargas by 1:12, with former Astana rider Rodrigo Contreras third at 2:08.
Bernal abandoned last week’s Vuelta a San Juan after just a few kilometres of the penultimate stage. Ineos Grenadiers moved quickly to clarify that Bernal’s left knee pain was not related to last year’s horrific crash, but a more minor complaint, caused by a fall on the opening day of the Vuelta a San Juan .
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Egan Bernal abandons Vuelta a San Juan with knee pain
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Bernal travelled to the Bucaramanga region of Colombia and underwent treatment on his knee but was forced to miss Sunday’s road race. Bernal impressed at the Vuelta a San Juan and hoped a spring block of racing would confirm he is back to his best and on track to ride the Tour de France after a year of rehabilitation.
However, Ineos Grenadiers coach Xavi Artetxe was quoted as saying the situation was ‘complicated’ and did not want two days of racing to “compromise the good trajectory created for the rest of the season.”
Bernal was more composed about his knee injury and his concerns.
“The knee still continues to bother me and we know what knee injuries are like, so we are going to see how things go and make the best decisions. But as I’ve already said, I’m still thinking about the races in Europe,” Bernal told NoticiasRCN.com .
“I'm fine. The truth is, after the result in San Juan, how I felt surprised me a bit because I didn't expect to be at that level in January. We have to calm down a bit. The season is long. We know where we’ve come from and where we are going.”
NoticiasRCN.com suggested that Bernal could still make his European debut at the Vuelta a Andalucía-Ruta del Sol in Spain between February 15-19.
Stage 3 of the Vuelta a San Juan marked the first anniversary of Bernal’s training crash in Bogota, which left him with injuries including fractured vertebrae, a fractured femur, a fractured patella and a punctured lung. His life was at risk in the hours immediately after the crash and for weeks afterwards, it seemed he might never resume his career.
He described the day as a moment of reflection when speaking to Cyclingnews at the race and now considers his recovery a miracle.
“To be honest, everything that happened today was a miracle and I was surrounded by very good professional people. The doctors who treated me, my family, all my friends, the team. All the people who were around me really took good care of me, so I think the miracle is also thanks to all the people behind me,” Bernal told NoticiasRCN.com.
“I thank life and God for giving me a second chance. I hope to take advantage of it. Trying to inspire people is the most important thing. Sometimes we don’t appreciate how well we are until we have a bad accident, so that’s a message that I would also like to give people.”
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