Egan Bernal to miss Paris-Nice as injury continues to disrupt season
'We're not sure when he's going to race next' says Ellingworth
Egan Bernal has suffered further disruption to his season, with Ineos Grenadiers confirming that he will not line up at Paris-Nice in early March.
Bernal injured his knee in a crash at the Vuelta a San Juan in January, forcing an early exit from the Argentine race before having to forgo last week's Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol.
Bernal had then been expected to make his European season debut at Paris-Nice, and was even unveiled as one of the star riders by the race itself on Thursday.
However, Ineos Grenadiers' deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth confirmed on Friday that the 2019 Tour de France winner will not be at the 'Race to the Sun'.
"We're not sure when he's going to race next," Ellingworth said during a press conference ahead of Opening Weekend.
Bernal missed most of the 2022 season due to the life-threatening crash he suffered in training last January, which left him with a long list of injuries - including fractured vertebrae - and a long rehabilitation period.
According to the team, the knee injury sustained in Argentina was more of an impact injury that involved lingering bruising. It was not said to be related in any way to any physical after-effects of last year's crash.
"This little issue is nothing at all to do with last year. It's just some bruising around the knee. We just don't want to take any risks with him," Ellingworth told Cyclingnews at last week's Volta ao Algarve.
"He's frustrated, he's desperate to race. But you've got to be strong with these guys because they always want to push. Sometimes you have to hold them back. Last year, Egan wanted to come back earlier but we held him back."
Bernal has stated his intention to return to the Tour de France this summer, but every missed race will raise question marks over whether he can return to a competitive level there, or whether he'll return at all.
"With Egan, I'm not putting any expectations on him at all. I think that would be unfair. He will have his own expectations because that's how driven he is. But you can't say anything about the Tour yet. It's totally open," Ellingworth said.
"You can't fault what he has done. It's pretty phenomenal where he is. He sends me videos and updates of what he's doing in training and he couldn't be doing any more, to be honest. We're running with him, giving him every opportunity, backing him 100%."
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Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.