Egan Bernal will be traveling back to Europe soon and INEOS Grenadiers' Rod Ellingworth has talked about the goal of this move, and what to expect from the Colombian in recent times as he seeks to make a full recovery.
Rod Ellingworth told Cyclingnews that despite the good signs, it is untrue that there are plans of having Egan Bernal return to competition as soon as May - as the Colombian's neurosurgeon pointed out that it could be possible. “I think everyone has been speculating about when he is going to race again, but just to be really clear, there are no plans at this moment in time. We’ve said all along, really, that you’ve just got to take it day by day. When somebody’s had a horrific accident like that, first of all there’s that initial shock for him and his family. Then after that, it’s about getting over the key operations," he said.
After crashing on the 24th of January, Bernal has undergone a miraculous recovery program which has been well documented. “Egan's absolutely made a faster recovery than anybody could have predicted, and I would say a lot of that comes down to him and that burning desire to come back. So he is coming back," Ellingworth added. However, he stresses that it is too early to speculate on any kind of ambition, and that the situation must evolve cautiously: "But there's no expectation and there are absolutely no plans yet to get racing. It’s way too early to predict when he might come back. There’s just no point in even putting a date out there.”
Earlier this week, Bernal announced that he would be flying back to Europe: “His idea is that he just wants to feel a bit closer to the team. He wants to get involved in some group activity, because he’ll be down in Monaco and we’ve got staff down there... I think it's about coming back into the team environment. He’ll feel like he’s closer and a bit more part of it."
“He’ll be out on the bike with the guys and that will spur him on. But it’s not like he’s just coming back from a broken collarbone. There are more complexities here, and that’s why he won’t race until he’s ready. Most guys in that situation, they want to move faster than they possibly need to. So you’ve got to work with them and make sure there are no shortcuts, because if you miss some key part of the rehab work, it could come back to bite you," he added.
INEOS is working slowly to make sure that Bernal has the best chances of returning to his old racing level: “You do have to make sure they’re doing that sort of work and that’s part of why we wanted to bring him back to Europe as well, just to have more assessments and see where he is. But with Egan, as with most of our riders, you actually have to hold them back a bit and put the brakes on," he concluded.