Egan Bernal is a professional cyclist for INEOS Grenadiers and is one of the youngest ever winners of the Tour de France. Having won the Tour in 2019 and the Giro d'Italia in 2021, alongside several other important wins such as in Paris-Nice, the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of California, he has cemented himself as one of the best stage-racers in the peloton. He is also known for having undergone one of the most incredibly recoveries in sports' history, having returned to competition in 2022 only 7 months after a crash that had him with 95% chances of dying or becoming paraplegic.
Name: Egan Bernal
Born: 13 January 1997
Birthplace: Bogotá, Colombia
Turned Pro: 2016
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Egan Bernal was born on the 13th of January 1997 in Bogotá, Colombia, and has became one of the Tour de France's youngest ever winners back in 2019 as he conquered the overall and the youth classification for INEOS Grenadiers. A pure climber in specialty, Bernal has used him climbing prowess to achieve some of the best results of his career, whilst simultaneously covering all bases needed to contest for the most important stage-races in the world.
Bernal is currently a rider for INEOS Grenadiers, with whom he has a contract standing until 2026, having a salary of €2.8 million euros per year. His FTP is said to be of approximately 383 watts which corresponds to 6.5W/Kg, seeing him with one of the highest values in the whole peloton. He is dating Maria Fernanda Motas, a veterinary back in Colombia who has frequently appeared in the public eye alongside Bernal in his most recent successes.
Bernal was raised in Zipaquirá, a place where he currently still lives throughout several months throughout the year. He is the son of a Salt Cathedral employee and a flower factory worked, and he got into cycling through his father who was an amateur rider, at the age of 5. Bernal stood out in Mountain Biking early in his career, finishing on the podium of the Junior XCO World Championships in both 2014 and 2015. That year he also showed his qualities in Europe, and with a reported 88.8 VO2 max value reported, he was an immediate option for many teams who would see his value as a rider.
Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec, a team known for it's scouting of South American talents, signed the Colombian on a four-year deal. Bernal was racing for the Italian team only throughout 2016 and 2017 however, having had his contract bought by INEOS Grenadiers. Inside Androni however he stood out in the mountainous races, being given a leading role from very young on. His first year as a pro, with 19 years of age, saw him win the youth classifications at the World Tour-filled Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali and the Giro del Trentino, and his first pro win came soon after at the Tour of Bihor, where he also won the queen stage. That year he raced the Tour de l'Avenir, riding to fourth position in the edition where David Gaudu was crowned winner.
2017 saw his results improve however. Having finished 16th at Tirreno-Adriatico, 4th at Settimana Coppi e Bartali (youth classification winner), 2nd at the Giro dell'Appennino and 9th at the Tour of the Alps (youth classification winner), he had shown great signs. It would be later on in the year however that he would stand out, winning two stages and the overall classification at both Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc and Sibiu Cycling Tour, and repeating the exact same achievement at the Tour de l'Avenir (frequently termed the under-23 Tour de France), beating the likes of Bjorg Lambrecht and Niklas Eg. Furthermore he still rode to an impressive 13th place at Il Lombardia, all this at 20 years of age.
His talent was undeniable, and being one of the most impressive talents on the peloton, INEOS Grenadiers bought his contract to the Italian team, bringing him immediately to the team in 2018. He quickly showed his worth, finishing 6th at his debut at the Tour Down Under, winning the national time-trial Championships and right after the GC at Colombia Oro y Paz, where he beat Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Henao directly, three of the strongest climbers in the whole peloton. His leading capabilities even within the strong team in the world (when it comes to stage-racing) were apparent, and he led the team to a second place overall at the Volta a Catalunya a month after - abandoning in the final kilometers of the race due to a heavy crash which saw him break both collarbone and shoulder blade.
Bernal recovered almost immediately, winning the queen stage and finishing 2nd at the Tour de Romandie just a month after. His superhuman recovery skills would become apparent at a later point in his career. Weeks after Bernal won two stages and the overall classification at the Tour of California, his first World Tour success. His set of performances saw him as a valuable piece of the British team, and Bernal was selected to the Tour de France where he assisted Geraint Thomas onto the overall win and Chris Froome to third position in the final. Despite his clear domestique role, he still managed to ride into 15th place in the GC, 2nd in the youth classification. Bernal finished his season with a 12th place at Il Lombardia.
2019 would see him as a definitive leader at INEOS. Bernal was only 22 years old, and in March he would go on to win Paris-Nice, beating Nairo Quintana and Michal Kwiatkowski. He finished then third at the Volta a Catalunya to conclude his spring. Bernal was touted as a leader for the Tour de France, and following his dominant GC win at the Tour de Suisse, this became obvious. He would come into the race as co-leader alongside Geraint Thomas, and both rode a very consistent race alongside the best climbers, whilst Julian Alaphilippe survived through the weeks in the yellow jersey.
Stage 19 would be the decisive day. A long drag followed by the high-altitude Col de l'Iseran would see Alaphilippe crack, and Bernal attack the GC contenders to build a decisive lead. The stage was cut short due to a sudden hail storm, leaving the Colombian in the yellow jersey, which he defended the following day into Val Thorens, consolidating the Tour de France win. Later in the year Bernal won Gran Piemonte and rode to third place at Il Lombardia. 2020, the year of the pandemic, saw him obtain consistent results early on, and after the lockdown a win at La Route d'Occitanie. He finished second to Primoz Roglic at the Tour de l'Ain, but abandoned the Critérium du Dauphiné due to back pain.
This would be a very bad sign of what was to come, as Bernal rode into the podium after 14 stages of the Tour, behind only Roglic and Pogacar, but cracked on the 15th stage following his chronic back pain. He abandoned the race the following days, and ended his season. The challenge was then on to fix his health issues, which he has seemingly succeeded over the winter. In 2021 he finished the Tour de la Provence in 3rd place, rode to an impressive 3rd at Strade Bianche which showed his potential in the classics and off-road terrain, and then rode into a 4th position at Tirreno-Adriatico. He eyed the Giro d'Italia as a main contender for the pink jersey, and regained his best form to take the overall win.
Bernal won the 2021 Giro d'Italia, taking the pink jersey after a stage win at Rocca di Cambio on stage 9. He seemed to be the strongest climber in the race, taking his second win at Cortina d'Ampezzo, solo after an horrific cold and snowy day in the mountains. Although he encountered difficulties in the final week, he managed to save his pink jersey and win his second Grand Tour. The Vuelta a Espana followed later in the season, where he was uncapable of showing the same form. However he was nevertheless an aggressive figure, specially on the 17th stage to Lagos de Covadonga where he and Primoz Roglic went on a long-range attack, which saw the Slovenian consolidate his overall win. Bernal rode to sixth position in the final classification, ending his season.
2022 was set to be a big season, and it ended up likely being the most important in his life. On the 24th of January Bernal was riding with teammate near his home in Colombia, on his time-trial bike when he failed to see a stopped passenger bus, hitting it at approximately 60Km/h. He received immediate medical care which proved to be crucial. Bernal fractured a vertebrae, a femur bone, a patella, he suffered chest trauma and a pneumothorax and broke a total of 11 ribs. The injuries had him with a 95% chance of having passed away or be permanently paralyzed. The following day he was stabilized, and had several surgeries on crucial impact areas.
Bernal's recovery story then developed to be one of cycling and sport's most impressive ones. As the months passed he would frequently update social media with his first steps, riding on a static bike and eventually returning to the road on the 27th of March, merely 2 months after his life-threatening crash. In May he travelled back to Europe, in June he joined a team training camp in Andorra, and soon talks began about where he would return to competition. That mere thought would be an incredible achievement, and eventually Bernal had himself start his 2022 season at the Tour of Denmark in the 17th of August, before every estimate. The Colombian rode the Deutschland Tour, aswell as two Italian classics before ending his short campaign, to return home to be with his family and perform another surgery on his knee.
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