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Egan Bernal riding without pain as back injury rehab continues

VILLARDDELANS FRANCE SEPTEMBER 15 Start Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 16 a 164km stage from La TourDuPin to VillardDeLans 1152m Auberge de la Cte 2000 TDF2020 LeTour on September 15 2020 in VillardDeLans France Photo by Marco Bertorello PoolGetty Images
Egan Bernal (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) says he is able to ride without pain three months after dropping out of the Tour de France because of a back injury.

The 2019 Tour champion, interviewed during an event of the Ministry of Sports in Bolívar, says his 2021 calendar has not yet been decided.

Bernal had a strong start to the rescheduled 2020 road season after the COVID-19 cancellations, winning La Route d'Occitanie - La Dépêche du Midi and coming second in the Tour de l'Ain. 

But his back problems hampered his participation in the Critérium du Dauphiné and then knocked him out of contention at the Tour de France. He abandoned the race after stage 16.

"It is difficult to take stock of 2020, it has taught me and everyone in general a lot. I'm really looking forward to the start of 2021, trying to go step by step, little by little, with a super focused mind," Bernal said.

Bernal said in October that it would take months of work in the gym to resolve his back pain which resulted from an imbalance in his legs and led to scoliosis in his spine.

Even with the departure of four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome to Israel Start-Up Nation, the additions of Adam Yates from Mitchelton-Scott, Richie Porte from Trek-Segafredo and Dani Martínez from EF Pro Cycling means Bernal now has even more competition for Grand Tour leadership on a team that still includes 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, and 2020 and 2019 Giro d'Italia winners Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richard Carapaz.

Bernal says he hasn't gotten a schedule for 2021 yet. "I have nothing defined, everything will depend on the back injury," he said. "The recovery is going well, but you have to keep your feet on the ground.

"It depends on how it evolves. The inflammation has gone down and I can now pedal without pain, but everything will depend on how I go in the races, because they are totally different efforts. You have to be patient."

For the time being, Bernal says he is only focussed on recovery and "feeling like a real cyclist again".

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