Contrary to reports in Italy that Egan Bernal could be forced to miss the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France due a recurrence of his back problems, Ineos Grenadiers have told Cyclingnews that the Colombian is “still riding the Giro.”
Other sources have told Cyclingnews that "everything is okay" with Bernal’s back and that he is on track and determined to fight for victory in the Giro d’Italia.
According to speculative reports in Italy by RAI television journalist Beppe Conti, Bernal is again fighting the back pain that forced him out of the 2020 Tour de France and so Ineos Grenadiers could rip up their Grand Tour plans.
Conti went as far to suggest that Bernal would miss both the Giro and Tour in the hope that he can make a full recovery and lead the team at the Vuelta a España. Richard Carapaz would be drafted in to lead Ineos at the Giro, with Adam Yates, Geraint Thomas and Tao Geogheghan Hart riding the Tour.
Other Italian media picked up Beppe Conti's claims, but Ineos Grenadiers again moved to quash the reports, without revealing full details of Bernal’s health and fitness.
He was diagnosed with the spinal condition scoliosis after quitting the 2020 Tour de France and has worked with specialists on his rehabilitation and a programme of exercises to help avoid the pain that wrecked his 2020 season. He apparently suffered some pain while recently training hard in the rain in Colombia but knows he will have to live with some pain as he works his way back to peak fitness.
Bernal has not raced since Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished fourth overall behind Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). He was also third at Strade Bianche, second at the Trofeo Laigueglia and third overall at the Tour de la Provence during an intense block of racing that saw him take in 18 days of competition.
He returned home to Colombia soon afterwards to train at altitude and only recently returned to Europe, missing the Tour of the Alps.
Bernal underwent a check-up on his back with a specialist in Montecarlo on Thursday and will spend the next few days at a final Ineos Grenadiers training camp at altitude in Andorra before travelling to Italy for the Giro. The Corsa Rosa starts on Saturday, May 8 in Turin, with riders due to arrive on Wednesday, May 5.
Bernal will lead Ineos at the Giro, where he is expected to be joined in the line-up by compatriots Iván Sosa and Daniel Martínez, as well as Filippo Ganna, Pavel Sivakov, Gianni Moscon and road captain Salvatore Puccio.
"My objective for the Giro this year is to get back to being the Egan who likes to attack, the Egan who isn’t afraid of getting dropped," Bernal told La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this year.
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