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Egan Bernal facing months of rehabilitation due to spinal condition

Ineos Grenadiers rider reveals he is suffering from scoliosis

Egan Bernal has revealed that he is suffering from the spinal condition scoliosis and faces months of rehabilitation to get back to full racing fitness.

The 25-year-old Ineos Grenadiers rider told ESPN Colombia that the problem could not be remedied by surgery, reports

He abandoned his defence of his Tour de France titlelast month after Stage 16, at which point he was 16th overall, almost 20 minutes off the race lead.

Bernal said “The problem is that one leg is longer than the other.

"I'm already thinking about next season. It's a pretty long recovery process because basically it has caused me to have scoliosis in my spine.

"A disc in the spine managed to puncture the nerve that runs to the gluteus and goes down to the leg.

"It is exactly the place where it hurts, but it is something that cannot be sorted with surgery – it's not recommended.

Instead, it's a problem that can only be fixed with long-term rehabilitation and trying to relieve the inflammation. We need to get the disc that moves slightly back into place.

"It's quite a long process and it will take not one of two months but a long time. It's going to take a reasonable amount of time for me to be free of pain again.

"I'm in Monaco doing my rehabilitation, trying my best and staying motivated for next year – setting new goals and objectives.

“I have a whole career ahead, so I can't keep thinking about the Tour de France that I lost, like last year I couldn't keep thinking about the Tour I won,” he added.

"You always have to think ahead, and the way is to do things in the best way right now."

Depending how long his rehabilitation lasts, and how next year’s UCI WorldTour calendar looks as the coronavirus crisis continues, Bernal’s injury may once again present team management with leadership dilemmas for the Grand Tours and especially the Tour de France.

Despite Chris Froome’s departure for Israel Start-Up Nation for next season, Ineos Grenadiers will still have four Grand Tour winners in their ranks, including Bernal and Geraint Thomas, winner of the 2018 Tour de France.

The British UCI WorldTour outfit can also now boast the past two winners of the Giro d’Italia –   Richard Carapaz, signed this season and currently leading the Vuelta, and Tao Geoghegan Hart, who yesterday overhauled Team Sunweb’s Jai Hindley on the closing time trial in Milan to win this year’s edition of the race.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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willsdad | 32 posts | 2 years ago

I really feel for Bernal, the explanation given in his press release is very confused. Surely he didnt get to his status in the peloton and nobody realised one leg was longer than the other. The body can easily absorb a 5mm discrepancy without issue. But he has a much higher cumulative stress so it should have been picked up sooner. I hope his rehab goes well.

RobD replied to willsdad | 1070 posts | 2 years ago

I guess the increased training loads of the last few years have accumulated to make it worse, but I agree, you'd have thought the team doctors/physios would be keeping an eye on him, but perhaps it's the sort of thing you don't really notice until there's a problem. Plus the reduced contact he's likely to have had with team staff this year likely hasn't helped.

IanEdward replied to willsdad | 688 posts | 2 years ago

I agree about the confused press release, having had surgery for a herniated disc and gone through the subsequent rehab myself, I'm not even sure some of the terminology above is even medically correct these days! Discs don't 'move' for a start, and 'puncturing' a nerve?? Putting pressure on it surely?

I have a leg length discrepancy and it has been picked up by various fitters and physios, so I would be amazed if it had gone un-noticed in a professional cyclist.

Silver lining is that Bernal is young enough to recover and come back even stronger, I feel after the surgery on my back I've been able to train and ride 'smarter' so am confident my fastest days are ahead of me still.


mdavidford replied to IanEdward | 3804 posts | 2 years ago

Given that the original comments were from an interview with ESPN Colombia (not a press release), I'm thinking that the 'puncturing a nerve' is most likely just bad translation from Spanish.

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