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What comes next for Egan Bernal after bus collision?

Doctors say it's too early to make any sort of predictions about his recovery, but the Tour de France looks all but impossible in 2022.

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Egan Bernal’s season was all mapped out.

A debut at the Tour de la Provence early next month gave way to a six-month build to a highly-anticipated return to the Tour de France.

Now, in the immediate aftermath of a horrific training crash, concerns are focused on rider wellbeing rather than racing calendars.

But when, or will, we see Bernal on a bike in 2022?

With injuries as severe as a damaged spine, and broken kneecap and femur, it could be some time yet.

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Bernal’s hopes of returning to the Tour this July seem highly unlikely. Some medics believe Bernal’s heavy collision with a bus Monday could have implications as far-reaching as Chris Froome’s career-altering crash in 2019.

“Is it very dramatic to say that the whole year can be lost? It would be wonderful if it were just that,” doctor Édgar Muñoz said of Bernal on El VBar de Caracol Radio.

An initial sketch of the early season had Bernal slated for Provence mid-February before rides at the UAE Tour and Paris-Nice later this spring. A traditional Tour-centric season would then trace through an altitude camp and final tune-up at the Tour de Suisse or Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

That Tour de France template is now in tatters, and a more optimistic outlook would be a potential ride at the Vuelta a España in August.

Doctors say it’s too early to know if and when Bernal could return to training, let alone racing.

Medical officials said Tuesday that Bernal will remain in intensive care for 72 hours to see how he recovers from surgery. Doctors suggested Bernal would begin rehabilitation as soon as possible but cautioned that it’s too early to make an accurate prognosis.

Racers can recover from fractured collarbones and be back in the bunch within a month. A fractured femur is no straightforward thing, however, and the array of injuries suffered by Bernal only complicate matters.

“Of course, there may be consequences,” Muñoz said. “These depend on the traumas he suffered, but, fundamentally, on the early management of this type of injury … He can recover well, not only because he is an athlete, but because of his age. He is a boy who has all the vital capacity to get ahead.”

Ineos Grenadiers is yet to release a statement updating on Bernal’s condition and it’s likely that even the medics that fixed up his battered body Monday night don’t know timescales yet.

Modern medical science can do wonderful things, and the peloton is full of riders who’ve returned from injuries that might have ended a career even just a generation or two ago.

When Michael Woods broke his leg at Paris-Nice in 2020 on the eve of the pandemic, he proclaimed himself “nearly 100 percent” four months later in June. He was winning stages at the rescheduled Tirreno-Adriatico by September.

On the flipside, the horrific crash in 2019 that left Froome with a fractured femur, ribs, and elbow saw the multiple grand tour champ away from racing for eight months. He was a fixture at top-end physiotherapists and chiropractic clinics for months after that and he has been a shadow of himself since.

With the deeper details of Bernal’s condition still hazy, the outlook for his year – and career – remains uncertain.

At just 25 years old, he has time on his side.

However, his Tour de France dream looks very dim for 2022. The Vuelta a España could offer him salvation, and the cycling community is hoping it does, too.