Egan Bernal has said he will have to live with back pain through the course of the 2021 season.
The 2019 Tour de France champion’s follow-up bid was wrecked by a back injury that forced him to abandon the race on Stage 16, having lost a huge amount of time on the previous stage.
The Colombian revealed in October that his back pain stemmed from having an imbalance in his legs and led to scoliosis in his spine; that it would take a long period of rehabilitation to remedy the problem.
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Bernal continued his 2021 season at the Tour de la Provence this week, having opened his campaign at the Etoile de Besseges, and he showed no signs of pain when powering up Mont Ventoux on Saturday.
The 24-year-old closed down an attack from Julian Alaphilippe and came home in second behind his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Ivan Sosa.
Bernal was happy with his ride up Ventoux, as he prepares for his debut appearance in the Giro d’Italia, but admits he will need to manage his back issues during the course of the season.
“My back didn’t hurt very much on Saturday, but I still feel it a bit,” Bernal said after the stage. “That will not just go away and I will have to deal with it this season. However, this second place gives me confidence for the coming races.
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“I am really very happy for Ivan. This feels just as good as winning your own. We managed to get through the first two stages without damage and our strategy was to shake things up a bit earlier in the Ventoux stage. The stage went perfectly. How is my condition? I am happy and I feel good.”
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