The Colombian was set to lead Team Ineos at the Italian Grand Tour after an impressive debut season at WorldTour level in 2018. This spring he took his team’s only WorldTour win with overall victory at Paris-Nice. Team Ineos may now save the Colombian for a three-pronged attack at the Tour de France alongside Chris Froome and defending champion Geraint Thomas.
Team Ineos confirmed the news on Twitter after Cyclingnews first broke the story earlier in the afternoon.
Where this leaves Team Ineos ahead of the Giro is unclear. As well as winning Paris-Nice, Bernal had finished third in the Volta a Catalunya before running to his native Colombia. He has been there since March and was not set to race until the Giro d’Italia, which starts in a week.
Team Ineos had looked at sending Geraint Thomas to the race earlier in the year, but he is currently competing at the Tour de Romandie, and despite his improving form, he is unlikely to want to alter his programme at this stage. Both Thomas and Chris Froome have been preparing for the Tour de France, and at the Tour de Yorkshire the team were uncertain as to whether a new GC leader would be selected from the remaining Giro d’Italia roster.
The team do not possess a plan B or a rider of Bernal’s quality that they can swap in on such short notice, but Tao Geoghegan Hart and Pavel Sivakov – both of whom recently impressed at the Tour of the Alps – could be given the chance to ride their own GC races. The team may also decide to concentrate on stage hunting. That said, none of Ineos' remaining Giro line up has ever won a Grand Tour stage.
At the Tour de Yorkshire, the news of Bernal’s fate only began to filter through at Team Ineos after the stage. Sports director Servais Knaven had spent the day planning the team’s assault on stage 3, and was obviously disappointed to hear about Bernal’s fall in training.
“That’s not good news," he said. "It’s not nice, and it’s not good. I’ve not heard about it, but other people might be working on a plan B. We just have to wait and see, but obviously it’s a big shame for Egan if he can’t win the Giro.”
Bernal later took to Instagram, posting a story showing him wearing a hospital gown and giving a thumbs-up. The accompanying caption read, "I'll see you soon, my friends. Don't worry – this only gives me motivation to train hard for the rest of the season."