Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) insists he is pain free after his impressive ride on Stage 4 at the Giro d’Italia.
The Colombian has rocketed to favourite status with the bookies after following a late move from Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) on Tuesday which saw him gain time on two GC rivals: Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck–QuickStep).
It may have only been 11 seconds, but it was a welcome performance for Bernal, who last raced in March amid concerns a long-standing back injury had flared up.
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The 2019 Tour de France champion is firmly in the mix in GC, 1:39 down on maglia rosa holder Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) and within 15 seconds of all the favourites.
“I’m here to have fun and regain the confidence of 2019. This day puts me on the right track,” Bernal said after Stage 4.
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Bernal had previously suggested that he would have to live with back pain this season, saying in February that “it will just not go away”.
However the early signs are promising in Italy, with the 24-year-old yet to experience any grief from his complicated back injury, which stems from having one leg longer than the other.
“I was in no pain and there were no problems,” he said.
“I had the legs to follow when there was an attack. I could also try it myself. I managed to maintain my concentration until the end and I reached my goal in this difficult stage. The team has also worked well”
A strong showing in Italy from Bernal could make Ineos rethink their strategy for the Tour, with Geraint Thomas currently down to lead them in France.
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