Sunday, Egan Bernal finished in 36th place in a Tour de France 2023 in which he was not an actor. But the Colombian does not regret coming, even if he no longer wants to ask himself the question of returning to the Tour one day.
Four years ago, Egan Bernal triumphed on the Champs-Elysées, and he was then promised a long series of victories on the Tour de France, he who was then only 22 years old. But since then, Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard, respectively born a year before and a year after him, have come to succeed him on the list. The Colombian rider saw his career, and his life, turned upside down by his accident in January 2022, where he crashed into a bus while training for the time trial in his country. Since then, he has not won a single race, and it was in 36th place, 2:38 from Jonas Vingegaard, that Egan Bernal finished the Tour de France on Sunday, without ever having weighed on the race, unlike most of his teammates. Despite everything, the 26-year-old rider does not regret having taken the start.
“When I started the Tour, I had no expectations. I didn’t set myself a specific goal because I knew that anything could happen. But I think coming here was the best possible decision for my future, he told reporters at the end of the Tour. I was aware that I had not had the ideal preparation, but it was THE race that I had to do to be sure to go ahead. My team gave me the chance to do it, even though they knew I wasn’t necessarily going to be competitive. I’m aware of that, but mentally I also needed to come back to the Tour. It’s the biggest race and the toughest race in the world, and just the fact that I can finish it is a victory. »
Bernal: “It’s just life that really matters”
Egan Bernal fell twice during this Grande Boucle, and it is always difficult for him to get back on his bike, but the Colombian puts it into perspective, aware that he came very close to becoming paraplegic during his accident and that he could never have resumed his career. “Each fall is painful and makes me fear the worst every time, he admits. It’s difficult to go from the status of Tour champion to that of following the gruppetto. But I don’t ask myself the question of whether one day I can win the Tour again. I am no longer in that state of mind. All of that is no longer a priority once you realize that it’s just life that really matters. » To date, Egan, Bernal has no races on its end-of-season program.