Egan Bernal enters Tour de France and forgets the crash that almost ended his legend. GETTY IMAGES

The 22-year-old winner of France’s legendary race is set to attempt another 'Grand Boucle' triumph. Two years ago, he crashed in training and feared for his life and retirement. After a promising start to the 2024 season, the Colombian has confirmed that he will contend alongside the feared Tadej Pogacar, with current champion Jonas Vingegaard in doubt due to injury.

It is hard to remember how Egan Bernal burst onto the Tour de France scene in 2018. He was a 21-year-old kid brought in by Ineos to try his luck in the world's greatest stage race. The leaders were the favourites, Chris Froome, winner of four Tours de France, and Geraint Thomas. 

However the Colombian was waiting for them to climb. Literally. It's not a figure of speech. Bernal helped Froome, but it was Thomas who was better. Bernal helped them both in the mountains, where nobody could follow him when the road went up. Thomas won that Tour de France and the following year nobody could stop Bernal. 

He won the Grand Boucle at the age of 22. The legend that had begun was now a reality. No one could have imagined what was in store for him. In 2021, a breakdown prevented him from challenging Roglic and Pogacar for the Tour. In 2022, his victory at the Giro d'Italia changed his plans. 

Egan Bernal in yellow for the 2019 Tour de France. GETTY IMAGES
Egan Bernal in yellow for the 2019 Tour de France. GETTY IMAGES

Then came 2022. In January he was involved in a serious training accident in Colombia that almost cost him his life. He broke numerous bones and doctors doubted he would ever return to the road.

During training, he crashed into a parked bus and the images still take the breath away from those of us who saw them. He was flying at nearly 70km per hour on his time trial bike when he hit the vehicle. Two weeks later, against all odds, he got on his bike to ride indoors. His broken bones were covered in bandages and casts.

Back in the saddle in 2023, he had a difficult season, as he was nowhere near his pre-crash form. Bernal's charisma has left Colombian cycling an orphan. With Nairo Quintana embroiled in a doping scandal and Rigoberto Urán no longer as good as he was in his youth, the nation of climbers mourned his loss.

Egan Bernal lifts the winner's trophy of the 2021 Giro d'Italia. GETTY IMAGES
Egan Bernal lifts the winner's trophy of the 2021 Giro d'Italia. GETTY IMAGES

The tremendous quality he showed in winning the Tour in 2019 and the Giro in 2021 gave rise to the belief that, given his youth, he could be the rider with the most Grand Tour victories. However, his willpower allowed him not to give up and he's back.

At the start of 2024, however, everything has changed and the Colombian is back with the best. "I've finished the first part of the season, now I'm in Colombia for a few days to prepare for a good Tour de France," the Ineos rider wrote on his Instagram account. In March. Finished third in the Tour of Catalonia behind Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar and Spain's Mikel Landa. Among the best.

He finished tenth in the Tour de Romandie on Sunday before returning to Colombia. The Tour de France starts on 29 June and runs until 21 July. This year he has even raced some classics that are not among his best, such as the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he tried to keep up with Pogacar and the others.

The Tour de France is the best race in the world and always unpredictable. This year, it looks like Jonas Vingegaard's won't be racing after a very serious crash . The Dane is the current winner of the race and the only rider to have beaten Pogacar in a lap. His absence opens up the field of favourites. And it opens up opportunities for Bernal. With the experience he has gained in the Grand Tours, he is one of the best, despite his crash.

Pogacar has already confirmed his participation in this Tour, as has Roglic, the current winner of the Giro d'Italia. Now that he has changed teams, he will have a team at his disposal in Bora. They will have other prizes in mind, not the general classification, riders like Mathieu Van der Poel, king of the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix, where he won convincingly. Wout van Aert, who broke his sternum and collarbone in a crash in Belgium, is also expected to be there. Sadly, it seems that crashes will be the protagonists in 2024.