Egan Bernal is set to begin his 2023 campaign at the Vuelta a San Juan race in Argentina as he aims for a Tour de France return.
Bernal hasn’t appeared at the Tour in three years, and the Ineos Grenadiers superstar missed most of the 2022 season after sustaining horrendous injuries in a training crash in Colombia in January.
Ineos Grenadiers have already confirmed that Filippo Ganna will compete in the Vuelta a San Juan in January, and the team now plan for Bernal to join the Italian in their line up for the stage race.
After such a long period out of action with injury, it’s understood that Ineos are aiming for the Colombian to ride plenty of stage races at the turn of the year to get into a “race rhythm” before the Tour in July.
According to a report by Cyclingnews (opens in new tab), Ineos sports director Matteo Tossatto told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Bernal will make their line up for the race in Argentina in order to build endurance after his long layoff.
“Egan needs to build endurance and get some race rhythm, so I foresee some short stage races of five or six days to build up again: like Algarve, Ruta del Sol, Valenciana or the UAE Tour,” Tossatto said.
After the horrific crash with a bus in January, Bernal spent a fortnight in intensive care receiving treatment for a multitude of injuries which included fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur and a punctured lung amongst other things.
Later in the year the former Giro d’Italia and Tour de France winner briefly returned to racing action at the Tour of Denmark followed by the Deutschland Tour. However he then was forced to end his comeback for a routine knee operation in order ensure that he can begin 2023 pain free.
According to the Italian daily, post surgery he attended Ineos planned training camp in Nice in mid-October before returning to South America for a scheduled holiday in Peru. Bernal will return to Europe for a scheduled team training camp in Mallorca in December.
In Nice, he said to me: ‘I can start the season like I’ve always done, like a real rider, and not like an injured rider thinking about the pain he feels. I want to get back to who I was before” Tosatto added.
Bernal’s full racing calendar for 2023 is still unknown but races such as Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico could feature in his early year plans.
“For the full programme, we’ll have to see how he goes in Spring,” Tosatto concluded.