Egan Bernal has admitted the images he shares with followers on social media only highlights the positive parts of his recovery from his severe training crash, with the Colombian revealing he still lives in a lot of pain.
Bernal returned to his road bike for the first time last week, just two months on from the crash which left him requiring seven separate surgeries to treat the 20 broken bones and two collapsed lungs he suffered. He has been active on social media throughout his recovery period, sharing images of himself riding on Zwift and more recently on the roads of his home country.
However, speaking to international media, Bernal made clear that his recovery hasn't been as plain sailing as it might appear on social media.
He said: “Being back on the bike after just a few months is more than anyone expected, but what everyone has to remember that you what you post on social media are the good, positive things. But I’ve had many painful nights and times where I can’t do much."
On Saturday April 2, Bernal offered fans the opportunity to virtually cycle with him for a 60-minute Zwift ride as a way to say 'thank you' for their support. The 25-year-old claims this support has provided him with extra motivation to try and return to racing as soon as possible, though he obviously isn't placing too much pressure on himself by signalling a return date.
For Bernal, simply being able to ride once again is a cause for celebration - anything thereafter is a bonus. This represents what Bernal sees as a positive shift in his priorities.
"The accident allowed me to see things from a different perspective," he explained. "Before, I was only focused on cycling and being the best rider in the world. But the real priority in life is to feel good and be able to be with those who love us."
His Ineos Grenadiers team also aren't placing pressure on his return, something Bernal feels is actually helping with his recovery. However, while Bernal clarifies he won't push himself too quickly too soon, there is still a sense of eagerness to get back to racing.
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to compete – there’s no rush to decide yet. I just need to listen to my body and make sure that when I do come back that I’m in the best form I can be. But there’s no rush.
“The team has given me a lot of support. Everyone has told me to take my time and recover slowly. Dave Brailsford [general manager] and Jim Ratcliffe [Ineos CEO and chariman] have both messaged me regularly, telling me to take the time I need. It’s important that I don’t feel pressure and that’s made me feel calmer about everything.
“But I’m going to do everything I can to come back, not necessarily to win straight away – though that will be the goal at some point. But I will come back with more motivation to race than I ever have before. Just finishing a race again will be a success to me."
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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