Egan Bernal is reportedly set to head to Europe this week to continue his next phase of recovery from his life-threatening training crash early this spring.
Bernal suffered a fractured vertebrae, fractured right femur, fractured right patella, chest trauma, punctured lung and several fractured ribs in the 60kph training crash, but has been making a promising recovery.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider recently took part in a presentation of his trio of new talent squads in Colombia. The squads are collectively known as EB Project and designed to help promote the sport's younger racers in his country.
In an interview with Italian specialist website Bici.pro, the Colombian said he was heading to Europe soon "to restart training and continue with my recovery program."
"I was waiting for this project, I told them [Ineos Grenadiers] that I did not want to leave without doing the team presentation first," Bernal said. "They gave me permission, they were patient."
It is understood that Bernal will be based in Monaco, where he has lived in the past, after he returns to Europe.
No date has been set for Bernal's racing return as yet, but in a recent Ineos Grenadiers video about the crash, he promised that he would be back in the peloton and racing at some point.
"At one point [when the crash happened] I was going along at 62 kilometres an hour, the next I was on the ground," Bernal recounted in the video. "All I could feel was that I couldn't breathe.
"When the doctor arrived he had to straighten out my femur because it was broken and in order to stop my haemorrhage, he had to deal with it there and then on the road. It hurt more than anything I've ever felt before, [but] maybe it saved my life."
The 2021 Giro d'Italia champion also thanked Ineos Grenadiers for their support during his long road to recovery. "From the start they've always said the priority was to recover as a person and then we'd see about the cycling side of things. They are like a second family, and to feel that support is great."
At the end of the video, Bernal sent a message to his fans and the remainder of the peloton, both thanking them and telling them, "Egan is going to be around for a while, I'm hoping to get back to racing, they should be expecting me because I will be back."
Bernal's new team project was presented in Bogota last weekend, with eight riders in the U-23 men's category, eight juniors and eight pre-juniors. His brother Ronald, 17, is one of the riders, many of whom, like Bernal in his earliest racing days, have MTB backgrounds.
"I love Colombia, I'd give my life for this country and we need a change, and why not do it through sport," Bernal commented during the presentation. "A country can be built that way."
As for why Bernal opted to create the team now, he said that while in intensive care he had asked himself about his own purpose in life, "because if God and life were giving me a second chance, it had to be for a reason.
"If I'm here, and hadn't been killed, maybe it's to help other kids and people. I thought this would be a good way to start.
"This way we can help create cyclists and control the process so that when they make it to Europe, they have a good chance of getting ahead there."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.
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