Happy, flooded with joy, with a smile from ear to ear. This is how Egan Bernal reappeared in front of the public, pedaling, feeling like a cyclist again, after that January 24 to forget, when he crashed into a bus on the Bogotá-Tunja highway, near the municipality of Gachancipá.
Through a platform, the Colombian runner became “competitive” again, amid the joy of going out on the road to pedal again, something that happened at the end of last week, next to his family, relatives and closest friends.
It was impressive to see him sitting on top of the bike, winding up the chain when just 68 days ago he was in a hospital bed, going in and out on a stretcher from the Intensive Care Unit to the operating room.
“It’s made of another material.” “He is an alien”, was written on social networks every time the Ineos team cyclist showed signs of overcoming him, of excellent rehabilitation, after having been operated on five times at the Universidad de la Sabana Clinic.
Bernal could have died, could have remained in a wheelchair, but fate did not want it that way. The current champion of the Giro d’Italia knew that he had been given another opportunity to live and he does not want to miss it.
He began a rapid recovery, helped by his youth, the 25 years that have been vital for him to be pedaling in such a short time, after the slight head trauma, non-displaced cervical spine fracture, lung perforation with the presence of air and bleeding in the thoracic cavity, fracture of the t5 and t6 thoracic vertebra and fracture of the right femur and patella, the injuries that were disclosed in the different medical reports.
Today, Bernal is another. The work of the multidisciplinary team and the desire to get ahead, to take advantage of that second opportunity to return to being a cyclist or have recovered in a high percentage and now what is sought is to try to find the path that leads to a good sporting level for back to the competition.
Before doing a virtual shoot with his followers, Egan answered some questions from international media:
What analysis do you make of your present?
Two months ago I was in bed and I didn’t think I’d be the way I am right now. All this thanks to the impulse of the people.
Do you have any idea when to return to competition?
I do not know. I want to recover as soon as possible, but I have to listen to my body and recover to compete again. I have no desire.
What does the team say?
The team has supported me, sending me messages of support, of doing things calmly. Take me as long as you need. That calms me down. I will do everything possible to be in competition as soon as possible. Finishing a career would be important to me.
Chris Froome criticized the use of time trial bikes, what does he say about that?
I didn’t know what Froome said. I saw the news, but I didn’t read it and I don’t know what he said on the subject. The time trial bike is part of cycling, without it cycling would not be the same and I say this because I am not the best man against the time. Don’t be late on a time trial bike, it’s more difficult than a road bike. It is necessary for cycling.
Egan rolled and talked about his process
Later, already mounted on the bicycle and during a ride to which more than 2,600 people connected, Egan gave some details of his process:
The day he got back on the bike. “It was the best day of my life, being able to ride with my friends, my family, my mom, my little brother, it was very nice, it was special, besides, we did it with the doctor who operated on my back, which was one of the most complicated surgeries I’ve ever had.
How the process to return began. “Obviously cycling is my life, I am passionate about this, it is what I have done all my life and it is what I want to do again. The first thing I thought was the same, first, look good. At the time I thought about it, cycling is worth shit, first my life and my family. That lasted me a week. Then I started to move my leg, to feel that it’s not worth that much egg either. Even on the ICU stretcher, when my dad, my mom, my little brother or Mafe went, he said ‘let’s do some jobs’. Hold my leg and I start to push down. I knew the times when they gave me pain medicine, I calculated and did it beforehand, being able to go out standing was also thanks to the help that my family gave me and that desire to start the process, even with those little things, but we started.
The severity of the injuries. “I didn’t know what surgery they were going to do. When they put me to sleep I thought they were going to do surgery on my femur and that’s it. When I woke up and they told me if I could move my legs, my back, my arm, then I said that It was more than the femur. There they began to tell me little by little, the impression, it was hard, they told me that it was a miracle that he was alive. ”
It’s still hard for him to walk. “I feel sicker when I’m walking than when I’m on the bike, I have to do it with the cane. I feel better on the bike and in a way that helps me in my recovery.”
The reaction after the accident. ‘Fortunately I didn’t lose my memory, with that I can remember everything and tell it to my grandchildren, but at the beginning it was very painful’.
The day to day. “At this moment, much better. Since five, six days I started riding a bicycle, I kind of became a cyclist again. I get up, have breakfast, and then go out to ride, I am going out with my mom, my little brother, my my lifelong friends, go out for two, three hours, stop two or three times to pour coffee, let the air blow on my face, that’s what I like the most. I’m terrible at getting up early, I arrive at 4 in the afternoon, or less, and at night I’m going to do physio and recovery in Chia, exercises with balls, the band. That’s where the day ends. At night I’m with my mom, my friends.”
The anxiety to compete again. “I’m ready to get on my bike, put on my uniform and be taken to a race to wear caramañolas. I want to compete again. I’ll be the first to pressure the team to take me.”
Have you seen races? “Little. I’ve seen some stages, but it’s frustrating to see and not be there, that’s why I don’t want to watch the races. One in front of the television, the others running and one lying on a bed.”
Will the treatment continue in Europe? “The team is already looking at that. We are working on it and the idea is to go, but it is not known when, it is not known if I can get on a plane.”
What has impacted you? “Many things, but the key has been the good energy of the people. Once the cleaning lady told me that she had prayed the rosary for her recovery and that impacted me too much and there will be many people like that”.