Bernal back for Catalan tussle with Roglic and Evenepoel

Colombian climber Egan Bernal returns to top level cycling heading the Ineos Grenadiers roster at a challenging Tour of Catalunya on Monday where he can measure his progress against the Belgian world champion Remco Evenepoel.

The seven-stage race presents three stark mountain summit finishes and culminates in a downtown Barcelona spectacular next Sunday with a series of ascents of the city's Montjuic mountain to round off a 1,196km route.

Former Tour de France and Giro d'Italia champion Bernal almost died in a training crash 16 months ago, and while he had been pushing for a fast return, he finally appears ready to roll.

Bernal will be riding alongside the Welsh elder statesman of the Ineos outfit Geraint Thomas, himself a winner of the Tour de France in 2018 and a third-place finisher in 2022.

World and Vuelta champion Evenepoel won the UAE Tour in February, and is favourite to win here too.

"We hope to be in the thick of the action every time it matters, to have a strong outing and show the wolfpack spirit and mentality," said Evenepoel's Soudal-Quick Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck.

Roglic recently won the Tirreno-Adriatico, collecting three individual stages along the way and has a strong team around him.