Egan Bernal said he feels “born again” as he left hospital two weeks after a serious training crash left him in intensive care.
The 2019 Tour de France winner broke 20 bones and collapsed both lungs after hitting the rear of a stopped bus at high-speed in his native Colombia. He was transported to Clinica Universidad de La Sabana in Bogota where he underwent seven operations including two spinal surgeries.
In a video message to his medical team posted on social media, Bernal said: “One moment I’m preparing for the Tour de France, giving it all on my time trial bike, and the next I’m fighting for my life. Fortunately I fell into good hands, and I believe that if it wasn’t for you [the doctors], it would be a different story, so I have to thank you for giving me a second chance.”
Bernal, 25, is one of the world’s best climbers and has flourished since joining Ineos Grenadiers, then Team Sky, in 2018, with victory in the 2021 Giro d’Italia adding a second Grand Tour to his already impressive palmares.
Following the crash he was initially told he had a 95 per cent chance of paralysis in his legs, but a hospital statement revealed his surgeries had been successful and his injuries are stable. It is unclear whether he can regain the levels of professional cycling or challenging at the top of the sport once more, with a long road to recovery ahead.
“In truth, for me it’s like being born again, the fact that I’m alive,” he added in his message to medical staff. “In the days where I was in pain I said to myself ‘at least I feel pain – at least I feel something’, and that’s thanks to you.
“I’m obviously now starting a very long process, but you have already done the hard work. My respects for everything you do. You deserve a lot more recognition than we give you, and thank you genuinely for giving me a second chance. I hope to one day be able to repay in some way all that you’ve done for me.”