Egan Bernal says back pain ‘has always been there’

Colombian star says complications during the coronavirus lockdown added up to his Tour de France departure.

Egan Bernal vows he is on the road to recovery from a back injury that saw him sink out of contention in the 2020 Tour de France.

The Ineos Grenadiers star continues his physical therapy in Colombia and promises to be back at his best in time for a run at the yellow jersey in 2021.

“I feel good,” Bernal said in a TV interview. “It’s a complicated injury, but we are working hard to be back at the level I should be for next season.”

Bernal, 23, flamed out of the 2020 Tour after losing valuable time on the Grand Colombier summit finale, and abandoned two days later. The 2019 Tour champion cited back pain that he says has long been a problem.

“The pain is something that’s always been there,” he told Señal Colombia. “Last year at the Tour that I won, and the first year I raced the Tour, and even when I raced mountain bike, I always had some pain there.”

Bernal added that disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic were compounding factors that only worsened his pain during the Tour.

“During the lockdown, with so many hours on the home trainer, and then to go from zero and straight into the intensity of the races in France, I think I might have caused a pinched nerve in my vertebra that started to hurt and that’s where the pain came from.

“With all the doctors on staff we were looking into it,” Bernal said. “We made a lot of exams and tried to figure out where the pain was coming from.”