After his terrible fall in training, exactly 1 year ago today, Egan Bernal (26) dares to call himself a runner again. Step by step he wants to connect with his past as winner of grand tours. “Although I am especially grateful that I am still here,” he tells our reporter in Argentina.
The third stage in the Tour of San Juan: for a former Tour winner like Egan Bernal it seems like a working day like a dime a dozen, but the tear-off calendar tells a different story.
January 24, 2022, day to day a year ago, not only Bernal’s career was hanging by a thread. The Colombian fought for his life after a horror crash in training.
He came back into competition in the fall of 2022, in 2023 Bernal wants to prove that his career is not over yet.
“It’s going very well”, Bernal told our reporter Renaat Schotte in Argentina before the start of the 3rd stage. “To me, this feels like a second birthday.”
I still feel a bit of a lack of confidence. I train well and I feel good, but what does that say about your feeling in the race?
“I admit that this is a day to reflect on what happened a little longer, to reflect and also celebrate in a sense. I’ve been very lucky, I realize that.”
The laundry list of injuries was endless, as was the number of surgeries in the aftermath. “Little by little I’m getting back to my old self. Physically I actually feel little or no difference. It’s mainly mental.”
“I still notice a bit of a lack of confidence. I train well and feel good, but what does that say about your feeling in the race? In the beginning I will probably also have some other tasks in the race and I will give the team more should help.”
The long break has given mental oxygen. “I spent a lot of time with my family and friends and received a lot of support from them.”
“I try to look at everything positively. I’m thankful that I can still be here. I’ve been through so many painful nights. I could have been paralyzed, or dead…”
A lot of attention for Egan Bernal in the Tour of San Juan.
“Some speak of a transition year, but I remain calm”
As an ex-winner of the Tour and Giro, Egan Bernal is no pancake. It is in the nature of every cycling fan to set the bar very high again after such a terrible fall.
“I’m super motivated myself,” Bernal explains. “Every day I leave for training with the starting point to find the best version of myself, the old Bernal. Some speak of a transition year, but I keep it calm myself.”
Bernal doesn’t pin himself down on results. “No, I’m not commenting on it. I want to be competitive.”
“But to say now that I can score in Giro or Tour, it is much too early
for. I just want to be at the start to get started.”
“Also in the Tour? It’s the most important race and I want to participate. I’m very motivated. I’m working on it every day.”
Bernal repeats it several times: he feels privileged, wants to enjoy and is grateful.
Finally, there is praise for Remco Evenepoel: “It is impressive what he does. He is a rider with a lot of class and now he seems to be in good shape again. He will be close to it in the Giro. It is great what he does, also for Belgian cycling.”