Egan Bernal continues his long road back to the peak of the pro cycling world following his life- and career-threatening crash in early 2022, with a top-5 placing on home ground at the recent Tour Colombia the latest sign of progress for the 27-year-old.
Bernal, who placed fourth on the 30km Alto del Vino summit finish and was third in January’s Colombian National Championships road race, said that “there’s still work to do” in the “long process” following his collision with a bus during a training ride just over two years ago.
Since then, he’s made it back to racing after a six-month layoff and completed two Grand Tours at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, and on Sunday scored his best GC result yet whilst riding for his national team.
“Let’s say that the numbers are growing bit by bit, but there’s still work to do. I’ve already been working very hard for the last two years, but this is a long process,” Bernal said in an in-depth interview with Cyclingnews‘ Barry Ryan at Tour Colombia, which this year visited his home town of Zipaquirá.
“In this moment, we can say that things are going well and – nada – let’s see. This is still only the start of the season, and anything could happen. In my head, rather than the numbers and thinking about whether I’m ‘back’ or not, I’m just going race by race.
“I’m giving the best of myself in every race I do with the aim of improving as time goes by.”
Bernal has reportedly got a return to the Vuelta pencilled in later this year, with his spring set to feature O Gran Camiño, the Volta a Catalunya and Itzulia Basque Country. He’ll also return to Tuscany for Strade Bianche, racing the sterrato he triumphed on at his second-ever road race before being snapped up by Androni in 2015.
However, his 2024 Grand Tour plans are still up in the air, Bernal said. He noted that his condition means any long-sighted racing schedule could still change.
“You can make a plan for the year, but things can change, especially given the condition I’m in,” he said. “Sometimes maybe you don’t see things as they really are yourself, but ultimately have to be going well to get sent to certain races.
“If you’re not, you’ll be sent to other ones. It’s simple, really. You can plan to go to the Giro, Tour or the Vuelta, but ultimately, you have to be going well.”
The Spanish Grand Tour, should he ride, is the only Grand Tour missing from Bernal’s palmarès, with his best result having been sixth place back in 2021.
Of course, he has Tour de France…