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Bernal to skip Grands Tours on return from horrific bus crash

Colombia's 2019 Tour de France champion Egan Bernal confirmed  he would not participate in any of the three Grands Tours in Europe as he recuperates fully from an accident

Bernal was back on a bike last week, two months after hitting a bus at speed in a crash from which he was lucky to escape with his life.

Bernal, who won the 2019 Tour de France and last year's Giro d'Italia, had neurosurgery after slamming into a stationery bus in Colombia in January. He fractured his vertebra, right femur, right patella, and suffered chest trauma and a punctured lung.

The 25-year-old Team Ineos rider, who was left nursing multiple broken bones, has made a remarkable recovery, but insisted that multi-stage racing was definitely not on the cards in the near future.

"The Vuelta a Espana would be a bit too much," said Bernal, who currently uses a cane to help himself walk.

"Obviously I wouldn't be ready to race it, it would be too much to ask of my body."

The Vuelta, scheduled for end-August to early September, is the last of the three Grands Tours after the Giro d'Italia in May and the Tour de France in July.

"To take part in this type of race, you cannot improvise," Bernal told journalists at a press conference during which he rode a static bike in a virtual test.

"If you're in pain, it's obvious, and then you can't push to your maximum. It would be a dream to get back into competition this year, but I don't want to give any date, that would be a little bit irresponsible."

The 25-year-old had said the accident left him with a 95% chance of becoming a paraplegic. But he left hospital in February and has posted a picture of himself on Instagram back cycling on the road, describing it as the "happiest day" of his life.

"After two months and 20 broken bones, here I am, and I want more. See you on the road, guys," Bernal said.

Bernal was the youngest rider to win the Tour in more than a century and had recently extended his contract with the Ineos Grenadiers team to 2026.

Bernal's coach Xabier Artexte said he could be back in competitive action in 2023 or even the end of 2022. He told La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this month: “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."

A post shared by Egan Bernal (@eganbernal)