Egan Bernal will not ride Paris-Nice next week, as a knee injury he picked up in January continues to force him out of action.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider fell on his knee at the Vuelta a San Juan early in 2023, which stopped him from riding the Volta ao Algarve. It was thought that he would be back for a big showdown with Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard at Paris-Nice next weekend, but that is now not happening.
Speaking during a press conference on Friday, Rod Ellingworth, Ineos’ deputy team principal, said that there are “no concerns” but couldn’t put a date on the Colombian returning to action.
“Unfortunately, he had a fall at San Juan, landed on his knee, nothing to do with the accident last year,” Ellingworth explained. “But like anything, these things take a bit of time, you can’t put a time frame on it, but he’s doing well, he’s disappointed not to be racing at the moment. One thing with Egan is that you’ve got to hold him back, cos he’s an ambitious guy like all of these lads. We can’t ask anything more of Egan up to this point, really.
“No, he won’t ride Paris-Nice. We’re not sure when he will race next, yet, but he’s OK.”
Bernal was left almost paralysed in 2022 after colliding with a bus during time trial training on his home roads last January.
It left him requiring seven separate surgeries to treat the 20 broken bones and two collapsed lungs that he suffered in the incident. He said last year that still being alive is like being “born again”, that he was given a “second chance”, and that the accident had left him with a “95 per cent chance” of becoming paralysed.
As a result, he did not ride much in 2022, but returned to racing at San Juan this year, before suffering the latest setback.
Bernal is thought top be aiming for the Tour de France this summer; Ineos Grenadiers look light on a definitive leader without the man who won in 2019. However, every missed race makes it all the more doubtful that he can hit top form by July.
Ellingworth admitted that the team were without an “out-and-out” favourite for a Grand Tour this year; in 2022 the team did not win a Grand Tour for the first time since 2014.
“We’ve got a strong bunch of riders, of course we didn’t win a Grand Tour last year, and the competition is strong,” he said. “It has made us roll up our sleeves, look up all the different areas we want to improve on. With people like Geraint [Thomas] in the team, who bring a lot of experience, we need to tap into that.
“We also need to balance…
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