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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, October 11, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Racing schedule:

On Sunday the 11th, we've got three races. There is the fourth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. Plus two single day races, the GP Beghelli and Paris-Tours.

Tom Boonen update from his team

Etixx - Quick-Step communicates that the medical examinations of Tom Boonen today, including a CT scan, are reassuring. Tom is feeling good.

The nature of the fracture requires observation and further recovery in the clinic for a few days. Boonen will be able to fly back to Belgium in the middle of next week.

Boonen suffered a left temporal bone fracture as a consequence of an Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 2 crash on Friday.

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen at the World Road Championships a few weeks ago

And here's a Kris Boeckmans update from Lotto-Soudal:

Yesterday, a press conference was held in the Sports Medical Centre “Nottebohm Fitlab” at Brecht regarding the crash of Kris Boeckmans, the consequences and the recovery. Kris talked to the press exactly 41 days after his hard crash in the eighth stage of the Vuelta a España. The medical bulletin after this crash was considerably: several facial fractures, a heavy concussion and a torn lung. Kris remained in an artificial coma for almost two weeks, before they flew him over to Belgium. Today, he is – step by step – working on his comeback.

Team doctor Servaas Bingé: “From the moment he crashed till today, I’m involved in the revalidation of Kris. Almost immediately after the crash, I was onsite. The first minutes, he was conscious but couldn’t talk much as he was in shock. Due to the facial fractures, there was a lot of blood coming out of his nose. This made it very difficult to hook him onto the artificial respiration machines. The urgency doctor of the Vuelta and myself immediately agreed that the best solution was to put Kris in an artificial coma. We did this on the spot before bringing him to the hospital. The medical services in Spain did a very good job on applying first aid.”

“After a couple of days in coma, we started to let him breath on his own. Kris regained consciousness but quickly we discovered that his oxygen absorption wasn’t going fluently. Due to his lung contusion, he couldn’t breathe optimal. This contusion couldn’t be seen during the first examinations, because the lung alveoli can only be damaged after 48 to 72 hours. When we discovered this, we put Kris immediately back to sleep. The days after that, his lung contusion evaluated badly. When he was recovered of this contusion, we were able to transfer him to Genk. Since then, everything went quick. He underwent a facial operation and a couple weeks later he went back home to recover. What concerns us the most is his brain concussion. It’s not his first one and because of that the recovery takes a lot of time. By this time, he can start his revalidation but we need to be very careful that he doesn’t overdo himself.”

Also Kris realises that he needs to take it slow. Three times a week, he spends some hours per day in the revalidation centre. For the rest of the days he rests.

Kris Boeckmans

Kris Boeckmans a few days ago

Kris Boeckmans: “I remember nothing of the days before the crash and the crash itself. The first weeks I had some strange dreams. All the people who visited me in Spain also were in my dreams, but in a very different situation. This was a very confusing period. By means of the stories they – including Thomas De Gendt – told me when I was back home, I tried to recover how far back my memory goes. It seems that I only remember the first stage of the Vuelta perfectly and the days afterwards are just a blur. Only three days after they got me out of the coma, I was perfectly conscious again.”

“From the moment I began the revalidation exercises, I notice my progress. Even though it are only small steps. Physically, I feel a bit better and a part of my body weight already has returned. Of the 15 kilograms that I lost, eight are back. I don’t have pain, but I feel that I underwent some operations. The screws in my cheek can come out next week, they irritate me. My headache gets worse if I need to concentrate for a long period. At that moment I feel some pressure coming up, so then I will take a rest. Every day, I stay in a dark room where it’s completely silent. By doing this, my brain concussion will recovery the quickest.”

“I never thought of quitting as a cyclist. Initially, I didn’t realise how bad the situation was. Yes, I was in a hospital, but I didn’t know why. I wanted to leave that place as quick as possible and re-join the group. By means of the stories my family and friends tell me, the photos and the testimonies, I could draw myself a picture of the situation. Cycling remains an important part of my life and one day I want to be the rider that I was before the crash. When I was watching the World Championships, I could imagine myself riding in the peloton.”

“We don’t have a plan for the future. We take it step by step and see how the revalidation goes. Three times a week, my girlfriend brings me to the revalidation centre to do my exercises. At this time, I’m capable to ride my bike for only five minutes. The kiné therapists and the team doctor are making sure that I take enoguh rest in between the exercises. For now, we stop after one and a half hour of exercising, where we focus on strength and stability. Step by step we can build up the intensity.

Manager Marc Sergeant: “The crash of Kris was a big blow for the team. We are currently riding a fantastic season, but this crash remains a dark cloud. Almost everyone in cycling send us support messages and we appreciated that enormously. When his situation became worse after a couple of days, I went visiting him in the hospital in Spain. It was an emotional moment to see him like that. Kris was riding his best season of his career. Too bad that it stopped abruptly.”

“We will keep supporting him in the coming two years to become a cyclist again. We know that it won’t be evident to get back on the level he had before the crash, but nothing is impossible. Kris already proved that in the past weeks. His contract extension was already a fact before the crash and this situation won’t change that. As a team, we will support him where possible and give him all the time he needs to become the person and cyclist he was before.”

Orica GreenEdge happy with Esteban Chaves

The team sent this release:

Two-time 2015 Vuelta a Espana stage winner Esteban Chaves has continued his blistering end-of-season form to take the queen stage victory and overall lead in a dramatic finale on day three at the Abu Dhabi Tour. The Colombian attacked an elite group of surviving riders on the final climb with a little over five kilometres to ride. He remained alone before being caught inside the last kilometre by Wout Poels (Team Sky).

As the pair approached the final metres, Poels slid and crashed off his bike on the last corner, Chaves streaming through to take the win.

"It was a very hard climb, and even harder in the heat,” Chaves said after the race. “The first part was hard, the final kilometres less so, but you needed to have the legs. We are in the middle of the desert and the temperatures were unbelievable, so it was important to keep my body temperature down. The team was great. They worked hard for me all day, bringing me water and ice for my back and head. I poured 30 to 35 bottles of water on my body.

“I am really happy with this win. It was a hard climb, but I did not raise my hands in celebration because the rider in front of me crashed, and it would not have been correct to celebrate.”

Esteban Chaves

Estaban Chaves finishing the Abu Dhabi third stage

After a breakthrough fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana, Chaves enters tomorrow’s final day of racing with a 16second race lead from Fabio Aru (Astana Team).

“It’s not a surprise that Esteban is flying,” sport director Matt White said. “He was good in Beijing at this time last year after the Vuelta, and he is at another level this year. It was always going to be a bit of a death march up the final climb for the majority of the group and it’s becoming a bit of a habit of Esteban’s to attack when no one is expecting.

“When he got caught by Woet Poels it was going to go either way. Then Wout has gone in a little too hot on the last corner and has paid the price. Esteban obviously showed he was the best guy on the climb and I think it was a well-deserved win. With the group we have here and the way they have been looking after Esteban up until this point, I’m confident we can hold on tomorrow.”

How it happened: Day three of the Abu Dhabi Tour was dubbed as a ‘medium mountain stage’ by organisers, but ORICA-GreenEDGE was expecting a tough and elite battle on the final climb.

Rafaa Chtioui (Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team - Al Ahli Club) and Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) took up the early duties in the break but never threatened as the general classification outfits thrived on their day to take centre stage. The duo held a one-minute advantage at the start of the final climb – an 11km ascent at an average of 7% with steep ramps of 12%.

Astana led the chase hard and had the race back together and front group down to just 30riders with eight kilometres remaining. Nibali was the first to attack with 5.5km to go. The Italian was first joined by Poels, and later by Chaves, who bridged and immediately attacked.

Nibali briefly joined the 25-year-old before dropping behind. The composite of the chase changed shape on a number of occasions as Chaves rode out to a 20second advantage. It was Poels who looked most likely to hose down the bold move of the ORICA-GreenEDGE rider and the pair eventually came together in the final kilometre.

Poels led Chaves narrowly into the final corner, just metres before the line, but slid out and crashed. Chaves claimed the stage victory ahead of Aru for the overall lead.

Lotto-Soudal reports contract extension with Martijn Keizer

Team LottoNL-Jumbo and Martijn Keizer will continue together through 2017. The team and the Dutchman extended the original contract by one year, from 2016.

“This contract extension shows the team has confidence in me,” Keizer said. “It gives me a good feeling. I showed my time trial capabilities several times this season and the support I get during the TT from the team is very important for me. I’m looking forward to try and bag some good results in the smaller tours with a time trial in the next two years. And, Of course, I want to remain important for the leaders in the big races.”

MartijnKeizer at this year's Dauphine

Martijn Keizer on a breakaway at this year's Dauphine

Keizer, 27 years old, is beginning to become one of the most experienced riders within the team. “I’m still quite young, but it’s true that we have more and more young talents in the team, and I like that. It keeps me young and I can teach them some things. There’s great interaction.”

Sports Director Nico Verhoeven sees Keizer filling an important role in the coming seasons. “Martijn is very valuable for our team, he’s someone we can always count on. In the mountains, he stands his ground and is able to survive until very late, but also on the flats, he’s very fast. He is available throughout the year on every day and every terrain. Moreover, we see that he is still making progress and therefore, we wanted to continue our collaboration.”

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary