Ineos coach says there’s a chance Bernal could return to racing this year

Egan Bernal has been making good progress in his recovery.

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A month and a half after Egan Bernal sustained serious injuries in a crash, Ineos Grenadiers coach Xabier Artetxe has said that the 2019 Tour de France winner is progressing well enough in his recovery that a return to racing this season is not out of the question.

“If we were to think of the standard times to recover, the answer would be no. But Egan is a top-level sportsman and his recovery skills are also above average,” Artetxe said regarding a potential Bernal return in 2022 in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I would not reject this possibility even without setting it as a fixed goal. It is an option that exists. Why not? He is working to get back as soon as possible. It could be 2023, but it could also be this year’s finale. We must not exclude it, far from it.”

Bernal collided with a parked bus at high speed while out training in Colombia on January 24. The incident left him with numerous injuries. He sustained nearly 20 fractures, breaking his spine, femur, and kneecap among other bones. He underwent multiple surgeries and spent a lengthy stretch in the intensive care unit, but two weeks after the crash he left the hospital.

Since then, he has been working on his rehabilitation – pedaling a stationary bike within two weeks of arriving home – and he has posted photos and videos of the encouraging signs of his progress to social media along the way.

“The wounds have healed and so he can work in the pool, the hydrotherapy,” Artetxe said of Bernal’s recovery.

“Riding? More than anything else it depends on the back because the knee and hip are OK. Little by little, he is pedaling from a seated position now. Soon, he will not be able to go out on the street, but in the most ergonomic position possible, the most comfortable, he will be able to ride at home on an adapted bike. A cycle ergometer, we are working on it, with the appropriate measures. I have already ordered this bike.”

Artetxe also expressed optimism that Bernal might return to his former level, although the Ineos coach noted that this opinion did not have a scientific basis.

As Artetxe put it, “There is a motivation, an incredible desire to return.”

Whether that will happen any time this year remains to be seen, but Bernal fans and cycling fans generally will be pleased with all of the encouraging news so far after such a serious crash.

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