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Monday, April 23, 2018

Egan Bernal gets a taste of the pavement

Por Jack Leyva

Egan Bernal, one of the young promising riders of Team Sky, has suffered clavicular and scapular fractures in the crash he sustained at the last stage of the Volta a Catalunya, in Spain, and he is out of the competition and frustrated his opportunity of conquering his first win in a World Tour race.

The twenty-one-year-old Bernal has enjoyed an exceptional start to his Team Sky career since signing with the British team at the start of the year, finishing sixth overall at the Tour Down Under in January and then beating the likes of Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran to win the Colombia Oro y Paz stage race in February. In this particular Catalonian race, he maintained second place in the general classification since the fourth stage, only surpassed by the Spanish Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), winner of the second consecutive campaign and for the third time in his career.

Bernal proved to be the only rider able to challenge Movistar‘s dominance in the Volta a Catalunya. However, as a result of his crash, it was the Spanish team which filled the top two spots on the podium, with Alejandro Valverde winning ahead of Nairo Quintana, while Pierre Latour finished in third place. Going into the final stage in second place overall, the young Colombian crashed heavily after Jose Joaquin Rojas slid out on a white line in front of him, right in the next to last descent of the Montjuic circuit, forcing Bernal to abandon the race along with several other cyclists with just seven kilometers to go to the finish line in Barcelona.

At the time, Bernal was just about sixteen seconds behind Valverde in the overall standings and was leading the young rider classification, a tournament that he also lost to the French Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale). The incident did favor another Colombian cyclist, Nairo Quintana, who was second in the podium. That was not Colombia’s only achievement in the tournament. Alvaro Jose Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) y Jarlinson Pantano (Trek–Segafredo), were the winners of the first and the fifth stage respectively while Bernal and Nairo were both in the podium in the main stage between Llanars to La Molina (170 kilometers). The also Colombian Daniel Felipe Martínez (EF Education First–Drapac p/b Cannondale) was seventh in the general classification.

Despite of his fall, Bernal received compliments from Alejandro Valverde, who acknowledged the abilities of the young athlete and his potential to be amongst the best cyclists of the world in the future. However, his return to the circuits should take some time after Sky confirmed that he had suffered fractures to his collarbone and shoulder blade, with the team not yet putting a timeline on his recovery, a fact that will completely vary his plans for the World Tour Calendar. Iñigo Sarriegui, Team Sky doctor, confirmed the fractures of the Colombian. "Egan obviously took a heavy impact on his shoulder and we wanted to make sure we took time to get that properly checked out," he commented.

He also said that they prefer not to give a specific date for Egan’s comeback because they wanted to get the specialist opinion on the best next steps for the cyclist’s recovery and rehabilitation. Bernal himself said that he was a little disappointed because it could have been his first World Tour podium and that he is sad because he felt felt really good and strong until the last day. No one knows exactly how long the recovery period will be but at the moment he is focusing on resting and recovering well. He also expressed that the most important thing is to think positively and to prepare himself for his next block of racing.