British Saxo Bank pro Jonny Bellis has left hospital for home this week after recovering from a near-fatal scooter crash in Italy last year.
Bellis, 21, suffered serious head injuries when his scooter crashed in Quarrata near British Cycling’s training base in Tuscany on September 19, 2009. He was rushed to Florence Careggi hospital for treatment and was kept in a artificially-induced coma to aid recovery and underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.
Unfortunately, just as Bellis was responding well to treatment for his crash injuries, he contracted peritonitis – a serious bowel infection – as a result of an internal feeding tube leak. His weight dropped from 70kg to 46kg in three weeks.
Bellis was then transferred from Italy to the Princess Grace Hospital in London and then to the Wellington Hospital, also in the capital, where the long process of recovery to help him gain weight and rebuild muscle started in earnest.
Depending on how he progresses, Bellis may be back to racing before the end of the 2010 season. Saxo Bank team owner Bjarne Riis has been in frequent contact with Bellis throughout his recovery process and recently visited him in London.
“I went there to see him and talk to him and meet his father,” Riis said in a recent Saxo Bank statement.
“I went to see Johnny on a personal level, as a young man that I care about, not as a cyclist. We all went for a walk and stopped by a cafe to have a coffee. But you know, once we sat down, we ended up speaking about nutrition, weight gain and training all afternoon anyway. There was just no way around it.
“Johnny wants to come back and we are motivated to help him. But he has no pressure from our side, only backing and support. Bradley McGee is working with him to get his training started and the team will be there for him with anything he needs.”
Cycling Weekly visited Bellis at the Wellington Hospital to talk to him about the crash, his rehabilitation and plans for the future. You can read the interview in the March 11 issue of Cycling Weekly