Egan Bernal has said that still being alive is like being "born again", and that he has been given a "second chance" as he left hospital, 14 days after the training crash which left him severely injured.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider left the Clínica Universidad de La Sabana, north of Bogotá, on Sunday after spending 14 days there. He has previously said that the accident left him with a "95 per cent chance" of becoming paralysed.
He broke 20 bones, as well as both his lungs collapsing. He had to undergo seven surgeries, including two on his spine.
In a video messaged filmed as he left the hospital in a wheelchair, the Colombian said that "life changed for me in one second".
"One moment I’m preparing for the Tour de France, giving it all on my time trial bike, and the next I’m fighting for my life," he said.
“Fortunately, I fell into good hands, and I believe that if it wasn’t for you [the doctors], it would be a different story, so I have to thank you for allowing me to have a second chance."
Bernal explained last week that he had a "95 per cent chance of becoming a paraplegic and nearly losing my life doing what I love to do most".
It is not known how long it will take him to recover from the crash, or whether he will be able to return to his previous high level, which has seen him win the Tour and the Giro d'Italia. He collided with a bus during a training ride on his time trial bike in January.
On Sunday, a hospital press release said that he has "no complications and all his injuries are stable and in the process of recovery".
In the video message, Bernal said that it was like being reborn. "In truth, for me it’s like being born again, the fact that I’m alive," he said. "In the days where I was in pain, I said to myself ‘at least I feel pain - at least I feel something’, and that’s thanks to you.
“I’m obviously now starting a very long process, but you have already done the hard work. My respects for everything you do - you deserve a lot more recognition than we give you, and thank you genuinely for giving me a second chance. I hope to one day be able to repay in some way all that you’ve done for me.”
The 25-year old has now returned to his home in Colombia to begin his rehabilitation, which will be organised by the same hospital.
EL AGUANTE!! 🤘🏽Feliz de volver a nacer 😌 pic.twitter.com/qODpvr3ktLFebruary 7, 2022
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