Egan Bernal has said it will take a while for him to be pain-free again, revealing the injury problems that forced him out of the 2020 Tour de France stem from him having one leg longer than the other, as he continues his rehabilitation with a view to returning to top form in 2021.
“I’m already thinking about next season. It’s a pretty long recovery because basically, the problem I have is that I have one leg longer than the other and that’s caused me to have scoliosis in my spine and a disc in the spine managed to puncture a nerve that supplies the gluteus and goes down to the leg,” Bernal explained in an interview with ESPN.
“It is exactly in the place where it hurts, but it is something that still cannot be sorted with surgery, it is not recommended. Instead: rehabilitation, ultrasound, trying to lower the inflammation and then beginning to strengthen the lower back so it can hold the disc and put it back in place.”
The 23-year-old adds that this process will take longer than a couple of months for him to be able to ride pain-free again and that it was this pain that wouldn’t allow him to push his full power at the Tour de France as the reigning champion dropped out of contention before abandoning the race.
“It is quite a long process and it will surely not take one or two months, but a long time, so it’s going to take a reasonable amount of time for me to be pain-free again,” Bernal explained.
“Mentally it was very hard at the beginning [of the Tour de France], even the first stages, when I saw that I was really fine but that I could not fully squeeze because of that pain in my back. Then to lose the opportunity to fight for the general classification and then having to retire with number one on my back, being the current champion, it was somewhat complicated.
“But I am calm because I know that I did my best to get there and we are talking about it being the most important race in the world, in cycling. You have to be at 100 per cent if you want to win it, so it was difficult and I couldn’t finish the race. You have to be aware that due to the physical problem I had I couldn’t be at my level, but that’s life. Things don’t always happen as one expects them, but life goes on.”
The Ineos man seems to have made his peace with the bad luck he’s suffered in 2020 and is staying focused on returning to his best in 2021.
“I am in Monaco doing rehabilitation, trying to do my best and keeping super motivated for the next year, setting new goals, new objectives,” Bernal said. “And I have a whole career ahead, I can’t keep thinking about the Tour de France that I lost, like last year I couldn’t keep thinking about the Tour de France that I won. You always have to think ahead and there is a way to do things in the best way right now. “
As for his goals in the future, Bernal also likes the idea of riding the Giro d’Italia, turning his gaze towards adding a different Grand Tour to his palmarès.
“The Giro is a race that I like a lot, I feel that it is a race that has a lot of passion. I lived in Italy for two years, I went professional with an Italian team, I have quite a few friends in Italy, as well having a lot of love for the race, I would like to do it,” Bernal said.
“But I still have to look at the routes a bit and see how my back is healing, sometimes it is difficult to make a decision with a cool head and simply looking at the facts to see what is better for me at the moment. When the day comes we will make the decision, but clearly I would like to go to that race.”