Bernal 'starting to feel like a cyclist again' as he eyes return after horror crash

By Sports Desk April 03, 2022 617

Egan Bernal says he is "happy to be alive" and is "starting to feel like a cyclist again" as he steps up his recovery from a horror crash.

The 25-year-old required multiple surgeries after sustaining a fractured vertebra, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung, and several fractured ribs when he collided with a parked bus at high speed on a training ride in Colombia.

Bernal, who won the won the 2019 Tour de France and the 2021 Giro d'Italia, was originally told by doctors that there was a "95 per cent chance" of him being left paralysed by the crash.

Just days after being pictured on the road for the first time in two months, an emotional Bernal opened up on his recovery.

"I actually received an important lesson from this accident, so absurdly I'm actually thankful for having lived through this experience," Bernal said, speaking at a 'Ride With Egan' event held on the virtual cycling platform Zwift.

"I'm happy to be alive and little by little I'm starting to feel like a cyclist again. 

"I want to say thanks to all the people who wrote to me and sent me positive energy, they really helped me. 

"Having the energy and support of an entire country, of so many people in cycling from around the world and especially of my loved ones, has allowed me to move forward and contradict the first terrible diagnoses of the doctors."

Bernal explained the accident had allowed him to view life in a different way, acknowledging his aim of being "the best rider in the world" had faded into irrelevance when he was faced with the life-threatening consequences of the collision.

"The accident allowed me to see things from a different perspective," Bernal added. "Before, I was only focused on cycling and being the best rider in the world. But the real priority in life is to feel good and be able to be with those who love us.

"When you are attached to a ventilator you feel fragile and vulnerable, only then do you really value what you previously underestimated or took for granted.

"Now, I send my strength to those who are suffering. We must have patience and give the right consideration to what happens to us in life. 

"Being forced to miss races can be traumatic, but it is more important to still be in this world, surrounded by the affection of family and friends. Sometimes we forget what really matters."

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was, however, reluctant to set a date for his competitive return.

"I don't know what the recovery time will be. I don't want to rush or set a date for my return, it wouldn't be ideal given everything that has happened," he added.

"Clearly I hope to recover as soon as possible, but I have to listen to my body. Before thinking about getting back to winning, I have to get back to full health and finish a race. That would already be an important success.

"I hope I'm not afraid to do what I love.

"I don't know if when I go back to going fast I'll be scared or not. For now, I've only done a few rides. Fear was certainly not the first sensation I felt when I got back in the saddle. Instead, it was pure happiness."

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Last modified on Sunday, 03 April 2022 08:56
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