Egan Bernal's coach has made the remarkable revelation that the Colombian could potentially return to racing before the end of the 2022 season.
"If we're to think of the standard times needed to make a recovery, the answer would be no," Artexte told La Gazzetta dello Sport when asked about whether Bernal could make his comeback before the end of the current year.
"However, Egan is a top-level sportsman and his recovery skills are also above average. I wouldn't reject this possibility even without setting it as a fixed goal – it's an option that exists. He is working to get back as soon as possible. It could be 2023 but also the end of this year. We must not rule it out, far from it."
Despite this positive news, Artexte went on to try and limit expectations.
"I have always told the team doctor: yes, I have faith that he will return to the highest level. I know what I'm saying has no scientific basis, because you can't know what's going to happen," he continued.
"But I see him working, and once he has achieved strong musculoskeletal stability again, he may even be able to correct some decompensation that was there before, and be more balanced."
When Bernal does return, he will be stronger mentally, Artexte argues, which could make him a more formidable rider than he was already.
"He's motivated and has an incredible desire to return. It will also be stronger psychologically. Without forgetting that in a path like yours you don't always improve, there could be occasional small pains, moments of tiredness, a few steps backwards. Fortunately, up to now, there have been no problems," he said.
"The wounds have healed and so he will be able to work in the swimming pool, doing hydrotherapy. Ride? More than anything else it depends on his back because the knee and hip are already okay.
"Little by little, he is able to pedal in a seated position. He's not able to go out on the roads, but on an adapted bike he will be able to ride at home in a comfortable ergonomic position. I've already ordered the bike."
Yesterday Bernal posted a photo on Instagram of himself on the indoor trainer.
"Guess who is back on his bike and feeling like a chimba!!" the rider wrote.
"As long as there is faith, everything is possible. And I want to tell you that when you really want something, there is nothing but it is worth it."
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