Egan Bernal may struggle to get back to the top after the horrific injuries he sustained in his crash in January and his underlying back troubles, according to Bradley Wiggins.
The Bradley Wiggins Show has returned for the first time this year with a bumper episode previewing all the top action coming your way across the season, and the British cycling legend was joined by Matt Stephens and Orla Chennaoui.
Bernal reportedly suffered 20 different fractures in a life-threatening collision with a parked bus in his native Colombia while training in January.
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The 25-year-old underwent multiple surgeries and significant medical treatment after the incident, and was discharged from hospital in February having described it as 'like being born again'.
Wiggins, who won the Tour de France in 2012, has expressed his thoughts on the Ineos star's recovery following the awful crash, and with his history of back problems in mind.
"We are unlikely to have last year's winner of the Giro potentially on a start line this year, aren't we, after his horrific crash in Colombia," Wiggins said on the podcast.
"It begs the question whether he will ever get back because of his underlying conditions with his back anyway.
"It was a pretty big fall for him wasn't it, some horrific injuries."
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Turning his attention to rising British star Tom Pidcock, another Ineos rider, Wiggins believes the mature 22-year-old is capable of making a huge statement this season following his gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the cross-country mountain biking event and joining Ineos from 2021.
"He is amazing, isn't he," Wiggins said. "Obviously he has moved on now from his Olympic title and the Vuelta a Espana he rode.
"He is going to be a force to be reckoned with this year. He has got a very old head on his shoulders, hasn't he."
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Wiggins, who was a close team-mate of another Ineos star, Geraint Thomas, also made the point that the Welshman has to seize any opportunity he is presented with this season with time not on his side.
"I read that this will be his 17th year as a pro - he rode his first Tour de France in 2007," Wiggins said.
"He has had quite a career. I always touted him, after he won his first Tour de France, that he could win two or three Tours.
"Of course, it has never been quite right for him – he finished second to [Egan] Bernal the other year. He has had some horrific crashes the last couple of years.
"I did read the other day he is not in the condition he wants to be for the Spring classics, which is not great because Geraint always wintered well.
"Time is running out for him to win a second Tour with that new generation coming through."
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