'I felt like the Egan of old' says Bernal after impressive nationals performance

Colombian settles for third place after two-up attack with Sergio Higuita narrowly misses out to surprise breakaway winner Alejandro Osorio

Clock11:09, Monday 29th January 2024
Egan Bernal remains on the slow comeback trail, but signs are increasingly positive

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Egan Bernal remains on the slow comeback trail, but signs are increasingly positive

At the weekend, just a little over two years on from his career and life-threatening training crash, Egan Bernal produced possibly his finest performance since his comeback in Autumn 2022.

At the Colombian National Championships, the Ineos Grenadiers rider produced a tremendous show of resilience to finish third on the day, which left him in fine spirits, despite coming up short of a first victory in almost three years.

"To a certain extent, I even felt nostalgic in the race, I felt like the Egan of old," he said to Deportes RCN after the finish.

"I'm going to give everything, I don't care if I'm going to get dropped on a climb, each turn was going flat out and that's how I used to race, without fear, and I felt that again."

Without any semblance of fear, Bernal had attacked from the peloton with a little under 70km to ride in pursuit of the day's breakaway, which at that point had a five-minute gap on its chasers. Alongside Bernal, Bora-Hansgrohe's Sergio Higuita joined in the pursuit, with the WorldTour pair riding alongside each other for the final five laps of the city circuit around Tunja, Boyacá.

Their chase was not to be, however, coming up agonisingly short of catching the last survivor of the breakaway, Alejandro Osorio. The 25-year-old hung on by a handful of seconds to take his first professional victory, leaving Higuita and Bernal to decide second and third place behind.

It may not have been the result either of the pair was looking for, but it certainly left Bernal with a sense of satisfaction as he kicked off his 2024 campaign.

"In the group, we understood each other very well, it was a great collaboration because nobody held anything back. We all went flat out because the race was very fast."

Bernal's third-place finish was his highest placing since returning to racing at the back end of 2022 and highlights his growing return to form. At first, just to see the 27-year-old back on a bike was a miracle in itself, but the past year has been scattered with a few performances that indicate he may be able to get back to a race-winning level.

Read more: Egan Bernal: I still feel like a winner and I really want to win

He impressed at the Vuelta a San Juan to begin his 2023 season, before finishing eighth at the Tour de Romandie and showing himself in a lengthy breakaway to La Cruz de Linares at the Vuelta a España.

The Spanish three-week race was Bernal's second Grand Tour of 2023, having made his Tour de France return in the summer. The Colombian has since noted that completing the two races was an important step in redeveloping leg muscle that was lost in the rehabilitation from injury.

For the coming season, Bernal looks set to race the Tour de France and Vuelta a España again. He will likely be a valuable teammate for Carlos Rodríguez, Tom Pidcock and Geraint Thomas in France, before possibly having free rein to test his arm at leadership in Spain.

Read more: Pidcock, Rodríguez and Bernal for the Tour de France

The road to recovery has been long for Bernal but, as was abundantly clear in his recent appearance on the Geraint Thomas Cycling Club podcast, the Colombian is simply enjoying having another crack at his beloved profession.

"I don't know if my best is winning the Tour, being a mountain support or just bringing the bottles," he said. "I have a second chance and I need to use it."

Related Content

Link to Did Egan Bernal accidentally leak Ineos Grenadiers' 2024 kit?
Egan Bernal

Did Egan Bernal accidentally leak Ineos Grenadiers' 2024 kit?

Former Tour de France winner shares and then deletes social media post that shows GOBIK as kit supplier

Clock
Link to Egan Bernal: I still feel like a winner and I really want to win
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) at the Vuelta a España

Egan Bernal: I still feel like a winner and I really want to win

Ineos Grenadiers rider continues his comeback with back-to-back Grand Tours as he hopes to one day compete with Jumbo-Visma's dominance

Clock
Link to Pidcock, Rodríguez and Bernal for the Tour de France as Geraint Thomas' Giro d’Italia plans remain unconfirmed
Pidcock, Rodríguez and Bernal could be returning to the Tour de France in 2024

Pidcock, Rodríguez and Bernal for the Tour de France as Geraint Thomas' Giro d’Italia plans remain unconfirmed

As Dave Brailsford brings marginal gains to Manchester United, the Ineos Grenadiers team hope to close the gap to their Grand Tour rivals

Clock
Link to Geraint Thomas loses second overall at Giro d’Italia after ‘big grovel’ on stage 16
Geraint Thomas could do little to stop Dani Martínez's advance on the final slopes

Geraint Thomas loses second overall at Giro d’Italia after ‘big grovel’ on stage 16

We hear from the Ineos Grenadiers leader and teammate Thymen Arensman, as Bora-Hansgrohe's Dani Martínez moves up to second

Clock
Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox