The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Egan Bernal: "I don't know what would have happened to my family if I had died"


Interview with the Colombian cyclist, who, on the anniversary of an accident that almost left him a quadriplegic, finds himself much calmer, with less desire to prove that he is the best

Bernal, on the run in the Vuelta a San Juan. Maximiliano Blanco (Getty Images)

A year and a few days ago, Egan Bernal, who turned 27 on January 13, came within millimeters of his spinal cord breaking, of becoming a paraplegic, after colliding with his bike at 70 per hour against a bus.

After a process that many have wanted to see as miraculous, the winner of the 2019 Tour has returned to the peloton, to compete, to think like a cyclist.

The one who was the wonder child of Zipaquirá is so focused on his being, on his life, that he doesn't want to talk about anything else, not even his political polemics with President Gustavo Petro or Nairo Quintana, or of Colombian cycling.

It looks as if the vital process has made him discover a new person.

He is on his way to know himself, an inner search, alien to the world.

The alpha male is now a zen monk, and his body, which he finds changed, thinner than ever, with a new nose,

and how much her face changes.

In the Vuelta a San Juan he has started his first year as a professional cyclist again, and the Tour is already calling him from the future.

"More than a cyclist who wants to show that he is the best, I am a person who tries to do his best and if I am not the best, nothing happens," says the new Egan.


A year ago he had a terrible accident from which he recovered almost miraculously.

You spoke of being born again.

Will it start counting birthdays now from January 24, 2022?


Hehe, a little yes.

In fact, the people who were with me congratulated me as if it had been my birthday.

Many people told me happy birthday, happy birthday and, nothing, for me, obviously, the 24th is really a special date.


Your recovery seemed like a miracle.

How did you live it?


They were very complicated days... Let's see, complicated... It was like a bittersweet taste... Complicated, in the sense that he told me, wow, maybe I'm not going to ride a bike again or maybe I'm not going back to be a cyclist, maybe I won't go back to walking normally, I won't have a normal life... But, at the same time, at that moment the last thing one thinks about is the bicycle.

One thinks, I am alive, I am with my family, I have my mother, I have the people who are supporting me, and I am alive.

I don't know what would have happened to my family if I had died.

I am like the center of the nucleus of my family, my father, my little brother, my mother, they are all around me, and, imagine, if one had died or had been left in a wheelchair or something like that.


Every day a little progress, more hope…


The following days, when one says, ok, I'm fine, I'm alive, I can move my legs, and one begins to think a little bit about, well, I'm going to do a bit of rehabilitation, but not even thinking about 'I want to to be a cyclist, I want to win the Tour, I want that...'


At the hospital, were you motivated by thinking about other cyclists, like Remco, who had become great again after a serious fall?


No, no, the truth is that no, I had no reference.

At that time, I think I was very, very closed in on myself, in my family, in my close circle.

I never had like, whoops, this person did this, this, or the other.

I was in that, in being very, very close to my family and that's it.

I was thinking only of myself, of being able to have a normal life, which was the most important thing.


Nor were you afraid that it would happen to you like Froome, also with a shattered hip, who was never the same again?


No, no, no.

It's what I say.

She only thought of me.


Did you have lows?

Tempted to stop fighting to return to cycling?


Maybe yes.

I thought about not going on, but it wasn't like a sad day, a down day, but because perhaps one realizes that the fall was very, very hard and the part from the doctors was, 'you're not going to ride again on a bicycle, it is very difficult for you to ride a bicycle again, perhaps in a year you will start riding a bicycle...' So, well, imagine, at that point one says, oh, maybe I'd better get off because I'm going to stay for a year without riding a bike and then starting again from scratch and suffering there in the peloton…

I couldn't just be in the peloton after winning a Tour de France


And that didn't motivate you at all?


I don't know, I couldn't just be in the peloton after winning a Tour de France, after winning a Giro d'Italia, and maybe suffering from simply following the peloton.

Come on, I think at that point I would retire, I would not be riding a bike.

So at that moment one says, wow, maybe I'll retire, but the truth is that the progress was very good.

I think that the doctors in Colombia did an impressive job.


Do you come back thinking big, hungry, thinking that you can handle everything, as always?


I think that maybe that goes a bit even in the DNA.

I couldn't keep riding a bike just to finish races or just to ride a bike.

It would be a bit boring for me, honestly.

And at that point I would rather retire and start doing other things.

I don't know, I like to compete.

I like to feel like I'm going to a race and that I'm not one of the others.

I wake up every day with the ambition to be the best.

If I'm not, then I'm not.

But at least I have that ambition and it is what motivates me to get up every day, to train hard, to make sacrifices, to do one more kilometer, ten more watts, a little more and push myself.


Will this be the most important season of your career?


I don't know if the most important, but obviously it is a somewhat key season to really know how the body is.

I don't think it will be a decisive season, that if this year doesn't go well for me, it will be possible to define what the Egan Bernal of the future will be, but it is a good starting point.

I will see if I am ready to fight with the greats in a big race or if I am simply in good condition, which, since there is still a long way to go, would be logical.

The most normal thing is that this year he does not win.

The most normal thing is that this year they have a normal result and that's it, but the ambition is to go and win.

How lazy, one having a rivalry with a runner, why? Because it's simply better? It's better and that's it


While you were recovering, Pogacar settled, Vingegaard was born, Remco grew... and you were out of action.

Do you feel the need to assert yourself, to say here is Egan?


Well, I don't know, I see it a little differently.

In other words, in 2019 he won the Tour;

In 2021, I won the Giro and in 2022 what happened happened, but I don't see it as a need to prove someone or prove anything.

I've already won the biggest race in the world once, and that's it.

Right now, Remco is an impressive runner, Pogacar too, Vingegaard… Right now there are a number of runners who are very, very, very strong and only one can simply do his best.


Did the fall change you in that sense?


Before I was a bit calm with that, but now even more.

It was already like I don't like having so much rivalry with the runners because it seems a bit silly to me.

I mean, how lazy, one having a rivalry with a runner, why? Because it's simply better? It's better and that's it.


Everyone likes that there is rivalry…


No, you like it.

Maybe I don't like having that rivalry so much, I don't like it.

And well imagine, after the fall, one says, cycling is cycling.

It's cool, one is going to try to win, as I say, it goes in the DNA of wanting to be the best, but if the other wins, well, that's it.

I come home, I have some dogs, I have a farm and the puppies will greet me with the same love if I win, if I finish second or if I retire.

That's life.

It's the most important thing.

For me right now the most important thing is to be happy.

After the fall, after having an accident, after almost dying and, really, being in that situation, believe me that the last thing that goes through my mind is, 'I want to go to the race to prove that I am what',

I have some dogs, I have a farm and the puppies will greet me with the same love if I win, if I finish second or if I retire


But competition is what makes fans.


Yes, yes, and it's cool because ultimately it's what moves people, no, knowing who is the best.

But also behind that rivalry that can sometimes be created, I see more than the rivalry in the person.

More than a rival cyclist, who wants to show that he is the best, I am a person who tries to do his best and if he is not the best, nothing happens.


And your parents have also had problems.

Fighting with that seems harder than fighting with Pogacar...


Not many people know, but at the beginning of the year my dad almost lost his sight, he almost lost an eye.

Later, my mother, with cancer, my fall… A lot of things happened and that was it.

After that, one is thinking why I want to show someone that I am the best me.

I see the human side of people and no matter how Superman one is, one is a human being.

And I see it that way.

There is no one here who is invincible.

Here there is no one who is superior to another person.

He may be a better cyclist, but he is not Superman, he is not a god.

One day it may be here, the next day it may be down.

And that's the beauty of life.

In 2019 everyone said, oh, Egan Bernal, seven years and seven Tour de France is going to win and I don't know what else.

Then they said about Pogacar and Vingegaard arrived.

Now they say about Vingegaard and another one is coming.

They will say Remco and another will arrive.


Fast times, right?

Young people of 23, 24 years, the best in the world...


It's just different.

But I think that cycling before was also beautiful, right?

The same with Froome, with Contador, with Nibali, or Nairo... just different.

Change the age, but...


Young people seem more impetuous, there is less calculation, right?


But that is also a bit because cycling has changed.

Cycling has now changed in general, but I don't think it's just because of young people, but because it's evolving.

The bikes are faster, you go much faster in the peloton, you go faster on the flat and that makes the race a bit more explosive.

So yeah, you're right about that.


Last summer you wore a number for the first time after the accident in Denmark.

What did he feel?


I was super excited.

I felt like a youth when he is going to do an important competition.

Preparing the number, thinking about what I was going to carry in the caramañolas [drums].

I was happy to see each person, to see the cars.

For me it was like, 'I'm a cyclist, I'm part of this, this is cool', and I recovered a bit of what one may inadvertently lose, and that is the excitement and excitement of being a cyclist.

All of us here, I think, I would hope, we like to ride bikes and we are at the top of the world level.

And that seems normal to one.

You are stuck here, you close yourself in your bubble and you don't realize how people see you from the outside.


Did you feel fear in the squad?


No, no, no, in the peloton I was ordinary, maybe, I don't know, the first five kilometers, a bit strange, wow, I'm back in the middle of the peloton.

but nothing, five kilometers and then it's over.

I still think that in the peloton I manage well.

I have never been afraid to be inside.


You look as thin as when you won the Tour, and it's still January...


This year without looking for it so much I am very thin.

I mean, very, very, very thin.

And the truth that I do not know.

I didn't look for it, I'm just actually eating more and everything, but the body after all the last year without exercising so much and arriving and in two or three months to put many kilometers, Maybe the metabolism will have changed with respect to the previous year.

The team follows this whole process, but I feel good.

I know I'm a little skinny, but I feel strong, and the most important thing is to have strength.


Why did you have cosmetic nose surgery?

The face of the new Egan?


It was a bit funny.

The doctor had been advising me for a long time and I hadn't paid attention to him, that is, he had always had his nose like that.

He didn't care.

And it was Óscar Sevilla who told me, listen, listen to him, and then we only talked about doing only functional, internal surgery, to breathe better.

And I said well, if it's only functional, come on, and the doctor told me at a certain point, I was with my girlfriend, he told me, but would you like to see how it would look if it was done aesthetically?

And I, well, yes, let's look at the computer.

So he showed me the computer, and I, oh, fagot, I would be a chimba, I didn't want that much because I felt that my face would change a lot.

I didn't know if I was going to like it in the end, but Mafe [his girlfriend] said, give it a go, and that's it.

You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes on




, or sign up here to receive

our weekly newsletter


Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits

Keep reading

I'm already a subscriber

Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2023-01-31

You may like

Trends 24h


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.