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A grateful Egan Bernal left a Colombian hospital Sunday nearly two weeks after a horrific, high-speed impact into a stopped bus during a pre-season training ride on January 24.
Following a string of surgeries and more than a week in the intensive care unit, the 25-year-old headed home to begin a long rehabilitation period.
“I am very grateful,” Bernal said Sunday. “One moment I was preparing for the Tour de France, and the next second, I was fighting for my life.”
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Bernal spoke briefly as he prepared to leave the hospital. Sitting in a wheelchair and donning a neck brace, the 2019 Tour de France winner thanked the medical team that saved his life.
“I’m lucky that I coincided with such great professionals,” Bernal said in a brief appearance before the Colombian media. “Without your help [the medical staff], the story would have been very different.
“I want to thank you for giving me a second chance,” Bernal told the medical staff. “The truth is, I feel like I am reborn.”
Officials from La Clínica de La Sabana confirmed Sunday that Bernal left the facility and will begin working on rehabilitation for a long list of injuries that includes 11 broken ribs, a broken knee cap, and femur, two fractured vertebrae, and a thumb, as well as puncturing both lungs. He underwent five surgeries.
Doctors did not provide details about how long rehabilitation might take, but suggested signs were encouraging for a full recovery.
“He’s ready to start his rehabilitation process,” doctors said. “There are no complications, and all the injuries are stable and in the process of recovery.”
Bernal said he was “thankful to be alive” following the high-speed impact into a stopped bus.
“I’m thankful to be alive,” he said. “These past few days, I was in a lot of pain, but at least I was feeling something. Now I begin a long process of recovery. I hope someday I can pay back everything that you’ve given to me.”
Nos llena de orgullo acompañar a @Eganbernal en el proceso de su recuperación. Hoy, en el día de su egreso queremos hacer un reconocimiento a su valentía, fortaleza y alegría. ¡Gracias al equipo médico que ha decidido hacer del servicio a los demás, una elección de vida. pic.twitter.com/B8Jg52ZNzP
— Clínica Unisabana (@ClinicaUsabana) February 6, 2022
Ineos Grenadiers also posted a short note on social media to mark Bernal’s departure from the hospital.
“We’re happy to report that Egan Bernal has been discharged from hospital,” a note from Ineos Grenadiers read. “Egan will now return home to begin his long rehabilitation journey — and we’ll be supporting him every step of the way.”