Egan Bernal will miss the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol as he continues to recover from the knee injury that forced him to abandon the Vuelta a San Juan.
The Spanish stage race had been billed by many as a duel between Bernal and Tadej Pogacar, who soloed to victory at the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior on Monday.
However Ineos Grenadiers have confirmed Bernal’s absence from their line-up in Andalusia to Cyclingnews, but the team remains ‘optimistic’ that the Colombian will be back in the peloton within the coming weeks.
It is understood that Paris-Nice remains in Bernal’s early-season plans, but it is not clear if another race will be added to his schedule before it gets underway on March 5. Bernal has apparently remained in Colombia as he undergoes treatment on his knee.
“Egan’s left knee is still not 100% race ready following his crash in San Juan, and much as he’d like to race there is no point risking its recovery,” an Ineos spokesperson told Cyclingnews.
“We’re optimistic about him being back racing in the next couple of weeks.”
Bernal had impressed in the mountains at the Vuelta a San Juan, a race with additional resonance given that it marked the one-year anniversary of the career-threatening training crash in which he suffered multiple fractures, including to his right femur and patella.
In Argentina, Bernal’s performances seemed to augur well for his prospects of returning to the Tour de France after a three-year absence. He attacked on stage 4 to Barreal and then placed fourth on the toughest day of the race, which finished atop the 2,600m-high Alto Colorado. But then he withdrew just kilometres into the following afternoon’s penultimate stage.
It later emerged that Bernal had hurt his left knee in a crash in the finale of stage 1, and the injury was exacerbated by his exertions on the Alto Colorado.
“On the mountain stage, he felt a bit of discomfort, and he felt it again on yesterday’s stage, so he pulled out as a precaution,” Ineos directeur sportif Xabier Zandio told Cyclingnews in San Juan.
“He’s been assessed and it’s not very worrying, so he should be able to recover in a few days.”
Bernal did not participate in the Colombian Championships road race the following week, but he struck an optimistic note about recovering in time for the Ruta del Sol when he spoke at the event.
“The team preferred not to take any risk so I could recover for the races in Europe,” Bernal said then,…
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