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Ex-Tour champion Bernal to undergo surgery

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Egan Bernal of INEOS Grenadiers rides during the first-ever Giro d’Italia Criterium race at Expo 2020 in Dubai on November 6 last year. AFP

Ex-Tour champion Bernal to undergo surgery

Former Tour de France winner Egan Bernal is to undergo an operation after suffering multiple injuries in a training collision with a bus, the clinic treating him said on Monday.

The Colombian “must undergo surgery in the next few hours for a polytrauma,” said the Universidad de la Sabana clinic in a statement.

He suffered blows to his neck, chest and legs but “for the moment his blood flow is stable,” said the clinic, without giving details of the planned operation.

Scheduled to race July’s Tour de France as Ineos Grenadiers team leader, the collision could derail Bernal’s entire 2022 season.

Ineos Grenadiers said Bernal was “conscious” when taken to hospital following the crash while on a training ride with teammates near Bogota.

Pictures shared on social media showed the 25-year-old Giro d’Italia champion lying on the ground surrounded by teammates.

The back of a bus with a huge dent in it is visible in the picture.

The 2019 Tour winner suffered “multiple lacerations,” the local transport police said, adding that he ran into the back of the vehicle as it pulled up at a bus stop.

The accident happened in the town of Gachancipa, around 30km from the capital Bogota.

Local press, quoting sources close to Bernal, said he suffered fractures of his kneecap and thighbone.

Just a few days earlier, Bernal posted a video on his social media accounts showing a near miss with a car while out training with teammates, and criticised the driver.

Noted climber Bernal, a hero in Colombia, has been training in his Andean homeland as preparation ahead of the new season.

He was due to begin his campaign on February 10 at the four-day Tour de La Provence.

Colombia President Ivan Duque wished him “a speedy recovery” on Twitter.

Excited to go back to Tour

Bernal became an instant star in 2019 when he upstaged British teammate and then champion Geraint Thomas to win the Tour – cycling’s most prestigious prize.

He enjoyed a stellar season in 2019, also winning the Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse races.

Ironically, Bernal was not even meant to race the Tour that year but a crash in training forced him to change his plans.

He broke his collarbone, needing surgery, meaning he was not fit in time to race the Giro in May.

Instead he was added to the Team Sky – as they were called then – roster for the Tour and caused a sensation by pipping Thomas to the victory.

His 2020 season was hampered by a back injury and he failed to finish his Tour defense as Slovenia’s TadejPogacar dazzled.

Last year, Bernal switched focus and won the Giro on his debut in the pink jersey race, before also finishing sixth at the Vueltaa Espana later in the year.

He recently signed a contract extension with British team Ineos until 2026 and will return to the Tour in July.

“I feel it has been a long time since I rode the Tour. I’m really excited about going back,” said Bernal when his contract extension was announced.

The Tour begins in Copenhagen on July 1 and will finish with the traditional dash along the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 24.

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