Former Tour de France winner Egan Bernal was recovering from emergency surgery for multiple injuries in a Colombian hospital on Tuesday after hitting the back of a bus at high speed during a training run.
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The 25-year-old underwent surgery on fractures to his spine, knee and thigh at the Universidad de la Sabana clinic in Bogota late on Monday night following his costly crash earlier in the day.
Egan Bernal’s cycling team Ineos Grenadiers said their lead rider’s injuries were extensive.
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“Egan suffered a fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella (kneecap), chest trauma, a punctured lung and several broken ribs,” an Ineos team statement said.
“Doctors were able to medically pin his right leg and stabilise the vertebrae fracture in two sperate surgeries last night,” Ineos said.
The surgery was performed “keeping the neurological integrity intact and preserving the functionality of the involved segments,” according to the clinic.
Bernal’s condition will be monitored “over the next 72 hours” in the clinic’s intensive care unit.
The Colombian suffered “chest trauma” and fractures of his kneecap and thighbone in Monday’s accident close to his home town, around 30 kilometres outside of Bogota.
“We are starting the process of rehabilitation immediately to achieve the best possible results with our patient,” said the clinic.
Transport police said Bernal ran into the back of a bus as it pulled up at a stop, suffering “multiple lacerations.”
Pictures shared on social media showed the reigning Giro d’Italia champion lying on the ground surrounded by team-mates.
The back of a bus with a huge dent in it is visible in the picture.
Noted climber Bernal is considered among the very best road racers in the world and is a hero in Colombia, where he had been training ahead of the new season.
Scheduled to race July’s Tour de France as Ineos leader, the collision could derail Bernal’s entire 2022 campaign.
He was due to begin his season on February 10 at the four-day Tour de La Provence.
Egan Bernal became an instant star in 2019 when he upstaged British team-mate and then champion Geraint Thomas to win the Tour – cycling’s most prestigious prize.
Egan Bernal won the Giro d’Italia in 2020
His 2020 season was hampered by a back injury and he failed to finish his Tour defence as Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar dazzled.
Last year, Egan Bernal switched focus and won the Giro on his debut in the pink jersey race, before also finishing sixth at the Vuelta a Espana later in the year.
He recently signed a contract extension with British team Ineos until 2026 and will return to the Tour in July.
The Tour begins in Copenhagen on July 1 and will finish with the traditional dash along the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 24.