Egan Bernal is set to return to racing on Tuesday, lining up at the Tour of Denmark, just eight months after the training crash which almost left him paralysed.
Ineos Grenadiers confirmed that the Colombian would race for the first time in 2022 at the five-stage race which begins this week.
The 25-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries after he collided with a bus during training at home in January. After the severe crash, Bernal required seven separate operations to treat the 20 broken bones and two collapsed lungs he suffered.
In a statement released by his team on Monday afternoon, he thanked all of those who had supported him through his tough journey back, which has affected him physically and mentally.
“After what happened to me in January this has been the moment I’ve been waiting for – to race with my teammates again," Bernal said. "I can’t emphasise enough how hard the last eight months have been for me, both physically and mentally. That day, and the journey that I have been on since will be a part of me forever, it’s something you never forget.
“As is the support that I have received from my family, my girlfriend, the team, Ineos as well as my fans. As humans we really rely on each other in our times of need, and this year has been a time of need for me - I can’t thank everyone who has been there for me enough. That support has been invaluable in motivating me every day to work hard to be able to race again. To you all, a heartfelt thank you."
There had been speculation that the 2020 Tour de France and 2021 Giro d'Italia winner would line up at the Vuelta a España for Ineos, but it was judged to be too early to rush the Colombian back into Grand Tour action. Instead, he will start the relatively lowkey Tour of Denmark.
Rod Ellingworth, Ineos' deputy team principal, said that Bernal's progress has been "incredible" and this was a milestone on a journey he is still on.
“When you think back to where Egan was only eight months ago it's incredible the progress he has made," Ellingworth said. "He’s shown the world the true strength of his character, and demonstrated remarkable grit in returning to race-readiness. We’re still on a journey with Egan, but lining up at the Tour of Denmark is a significant and hard-earned milestone.
"Egan’s long-term recovery has and continues to guide our medical and physical programme of support – our targets have always been performance-led not race-led, and the entire INEOS Grenadiers family is proud and delighted for Egan that his determination and application will now see him return to the race environment he has craved for so long."
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