Egan Bernal has battled back from a near-fatal crash to ride in the Tour de France
Paris (AFP) - Ineos Grenadiers hailed 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal’s “character and resilience” in battling back from a near-fatal road accident to make their team for this year’s race announced on Monday.
Getting to the starting line-up in Bilbao on Saturday represents a significant achievement in itself for the Colombian who almost died in a training crash in January 2022.
The 26-year-old specialist climber suffered multiple broken bones when he hit a stationary bus at speed near Bogata.
Bernal needed multiple surgeries after breaking several ribs, a knee cap, a thigh bone, two vertebrae and a thumb in the crash.
“I almost died but I thank God for this test,” he said at the time.
Now, a year and a half later, Bernal is back and primed to make life difficult for defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and two-time champion Tadej Pogacar.
“The whole team’s really thrilled for Egan, and everyone who’s supported him in his return to full fitness,” said Ineos director Rod Ellingworth.
“It’s a demonstration of his character and resilience, and the extraordinary effort he’s put into his recovery over the past 18 months.
“Of course, as a previous winner, he brings invaluable insight and a winning attitude to the group.
“His grit and determination sum up what we’re all about as a team, and all our riders will benefit from his experience at the Tour.”
Bernal said: “Making my return to the Tour has always been a major goal for me. I’m so excited to be able to experience every kilometre of this race again.”
Bernal is joined in the Ineos team by Jonathan Castroviejo, Omar Fraile, Michal Kwiatkowski, Daniel Martinez, Tom Pidcock, Carlos Rodriguez and Ben Turner. Pidcock was a stage winner on the Alpe d’Huez summit last year.
As previously announced Giro d’Italia runner-up Geraint Thomas is sitting out this year’s 3,400-kilometre trek around France.