Egan Bernal has had nose surgery ahead of the 2023 season, in order to improve the "passage of air".
The Ineos Grenadiers rider has been pictured with plasters on his nose in recent weeks, and Colombian media, followed by VeloNews, reported that doctors had confirmed that he had received an operation to treat a deviated septum in December.
It is not thought to be connected to the horror crash which the Colombian was involved in last January; Bernal was left almost paralysed after colliding with a bus during time trial training on his home roads.
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.
Doctors in Colombia said that the septoplasty, which is designed to “facilitate the passage of air through the nose", was linked to other incidents earlier in his career.
In 2018 Bernal required surgery to repair a split top lip and reduce a nasal fracture after crash during the Clásica San Sebastián, at the time he also had a small bleed on the brain, such was the impact of the crash. He also needed dental surgery to repair missing, broken and fractured teeth.
The Colombian turns 26 in January, and will look to get his career back on track after last year's injury-affected season.
The Tour de France and Giro d'Italia winner did not race in 2022 until August, completing four stages of the Tour of Denmark and then three at the Deutschland Tour, before taking part in a couple of small end-of-year Italian one-day races.
Bernal has not won a race since the 2021 Giro, where he won two stages on his way to comprehensive overall victory. Given the success of Remco Evenepoel, Jai Hindley and Jonas Vingegaard at Grand Tours since then, the landscape of road racing has altered since he was considered one of the top three stage racers.
His programme for next season is unknown as yet, although it is thought he will ride the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina to kick things off; with Geraint Thomas targeting the Giro in May, the 25-year-old might focus on the Tour or the Vuelta a España instead.
Team Work 😍 pic.twitter.com/P6pct3VAjkDecember 20, 2022
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