In time trial position on a motorway: this is how Bernal's crash happened
If you have been reading the news about yesterday's accident in Colombia that has shocked the world of sport and wondered how you could crash into the back of a stationary bus, you are not the only one. That's why we have compiled all the information about it to explain step by step how it all happened. This is what the Bernal accident was like, according to what we know so far. And the recipe for the disaster that descended on the Ineos-Grenadiers leader includes the time trial position, a motorway and an unexpected manoeuvre.
Whose fault was it?
The truth is that an important part of the British team in which Egan Bernal rides has been preparing for the start of the season in Colombia for a few weeks. They are precisely in the area of Zipaquirá, where Egan himself was born, and he has shared on his Twitter account in recent days several photos of the squad with which he trained, composed of Spaniards Omar Fraile and Carlos Rodríguez, as well as Richard Carapaz, Andrey Amador, Daniel Felipe Martínez and Brandon Rivera.
The team had also released images a few days ago of a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre by a car that put the group in danger. Yesterday, the Ineos riders took to the road again, joining the Ruta Nacional 55, a sort of motorway that leads to Bogotá. The intention was for Bernal to train there specifically for the time trial, which is one of the areas in which he has most room for improvement, especially with respect to Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar, his two great rivals today, and consummate specialists.
#ATENCION Egan Bernal, ciclista colombiano sufrió un accidente en carreteras colombianas. Según las autoridades, Bernal chocó contra un bus estacionado en la vía.#RadioUnoTunja pic.twitter.com/CInWYPvVGW— Radio Uno Tunja (@radio1tunja) January 24, 2022
The truth is that Bernal has been concentrating on this challenge all winter, and has even been seen practising the triathlete position in a German velodrome. The problem is that, on the road and in open traffic, adopting this position is quite dangerous, as one tends to look down for several seconds, rather than straight ahead. And this is apparently part of what led to the accident.
According to all the witnesses, Bernal was travelling along the motorway at more than 50 km/h and a few metres ahead of the rest of the group when he reached the municipality of Gachancipá, 30 km from Bogotá. The bus was driving ahead of them, as normal. However, at a certain point, the bus stopped on the hard shoulder to pick up a passenger. This is legal and standard practice in Colombia, by the way. The cyclist, probably due to his position as a time trialist, did not notice the manoeuvre and crashed into the rear of the bus, leaving an obvious impact.
The risk of aerodynamic positions
The Colombian traffic police's own report confirms this development of events. According to the local media, it states that "the vehicles were travelling in the Tunja - Bogotá direction, when the bus stops to drop off a passenger and the driver of the bicycle-type vehicle, who was travelling in the same direction and in the same lane, did not notice the manoeuvre made by the bus-type vehicle and collided with the rear of it".
Although it is difficult to determine who is to blame for what happened, everything indicates that the time trial position did not help either to avoid the collision or to reduce the seriousness of the injuries. Because, being so unnatural, it does not allow the hands to be placed when falling, nor does it practically allow the body to prepare for the impact. It is therefore necessary to recall once again the great risk involved in aerodynamic postures (supertuck, time trial, with elbows on the handlebars...), especially on roads open to traffic.
Incidentally, in recent years, there have been several road accidents in Colombia involving cyclists as unfortunate protagonists. Obviously, these events happen in every country in the world, but the South American country seems particularly dangerous for riders. In 2016, it was Miguel Angel Lopez who suffered a broken tibia (as did Egan, by the way) after an incident caused by an overtaking car. In 2020, Nairo Quintana was hit by another vehicle. And recently it was Daniel Arroyave of the EF Education-EasyPost team who was hit. In this case, however, it seems to be less about reckless driving and more about simple misfortune.