Koen de Kort speaks out about his career-ending injury

The former Trek-Segafredo rider had the fingers amputated after an off-road buggy crash

Koen de Kort
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Koen de Kort says he is "careful not to make it a pathetic story" after he was forced to retire from pro cycling due to an off-road vehicle crash in Andorra in June.

De Kort, who was a rider for Trek-Segafredo, had to have three fingers amputated
on his right hand due to the crash.

The Dutchman was airlifted to hospital in Barcelona where doctors had to amputate his third, fourth and fifth fingers. The index finger is still operational but was damaged considerably with his thumb remaining.

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The 38-year-old has not spoken extensively about his accident since it happened, but elaborated on the incident and life after on Langs de Lijn En Omstreken on NPO Radio 1: "He [his father] pointed out to me that from now on I could not order more than seven beers. And that there wasn't much else going on.

"I'm careful not to make it a pathetic story. Of course you'd rather not. Ten fingers is nicer than seven, but you can also live well with seven fingers. I've already noticed that."

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Since the incident, De Kort retired and joined the coaching staff at Trek-Segafredo after spending the last five of his 20-year pro career with the American registered team.

He was a key road captain in races like the Classics as well as the Grand Tours but now joins the coaching side of the team, taking a shared role of team support manager with Glen Leven.

De Kort spoke about how the crash happened while he was driving an off-road buggy on the way to a restaurant where he was going to join friends after coming back from a training ride.

He set off up a dirt road in a buggy that had a roll cage. He rolled it just once but put his hand out of the side while it happened which mean his fingers were crushed. He tried to take his harness off, which required both hands, but he was unable to.

That's when he realised that something had gone wrong with his hand.

"It actually didn't hurt. It wasn't bleeding at all, but that seems to be normal," he explained. "The fingers were still there, but that's about it. Did I know right away that my career was over? Yes. Five minutes later it was. 

"The first thoughts were: how do I get out of here? My friends couldn't get me out of there easily. I was taken to Barcelona by helicopter."

He went on to say how he tried to get back to normal but it took him three hours to open a bottle of water, which he was very happy about as he could barely move his finger and thumb. He then tried puzzles and Lego. 

De Kort was a bit overwhelmed by the reaction on social media: "It was a bit like someone is dying, I got such reactions. But I'm still alive."

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.