Egan Bernal suffered injuries in early 2022 that put his career and life on the line. Over the 2023 season he's put in a lot of effort to try and return to his best level, and did the efforts to specifically try to improve in the long-term.
"How I survived this accident is not normal, so above all, I'm happy to be alive. In cycling, we always think about being number one and winning the Tour de France and blah, blah, blah, and I did, too, before the accident. But when you realise that you are, like, you know, a normal person and you can die, and you experience being in bed unable to move, and all these things … I was lucky," Bernal shared in a lengthy interview with Cyclingnews. "I think that's why I don't have bad moments mentally because I know how lucky I was just to be alive."
Laurens de Plus refused but believes he will race with Remco Evenepoel in the future: "One day it will happen that we will race together in a team, but not yet"
Ever since, Bernal had a miraculous return to pro cycling last year, and this year was all about trying to increase his level and be competitive. He was to finish in the top spots of the Vuelta a San Juan early in the year before abandoning with a newly-acquired knee injury, but then still managed to finish inside the Top10 of the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Hongrie. This also earned him a much-awaited return to the Tour de France. He couldn't hold his GC stint due to fatigue, but extended his season to the Vuelta a Espana to build back his Grand Tour engine.
"I had started in the Volta a Catalunya and then I was doing high-level races with only short recovery periods in between. But I think it was a good decision to do this kind of workload, in terms of next seaso," he believes. "It was hard but hopefully, it's going to pay off next year. After the Vuelta, I feel good with what I did - and had more confidence about next year."
"You want to be at the big races and have a shot" - Tao Geoghegan Hart opens up on departure from the INEOS Grenadiers
Into 2024 most likely the Tour will be a big goal, however Bernal admits that is not necessarily his biggest career goal remaining. As a former winner of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, he admits that his career would be complete if he now managed to win the Vuelta a Espana. "For sure when you are up there with the best and you feel what it means to win a Grand Tour - the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia - with just one race like the Vuelta missing... To me, to be really happy with my career, it’s just the Vuelta, so I really want to be back at that level and I’m really working for this."
"I wake up every day thinking I will be back in my best level. I want to have that mentality that I will be able to be one of the best riders in the world because otherwise, I think I would not continue riding the bike in a professional way. I'd just retire... I think I will be able to be there if I keep having the mentality to become one of the best again."