De Plus, who was already on the comeback trail from a bad crash at Il Lombardia, suffered a broken pelvis and vertebrae in the crash while Vakoc also broke multiple vertebrae.
In a blog on the Quick-Step Floors team website, De Plus wrote for the first time about the moment of the crash and the first few days and weeks of his recovery.
“I think we were quite lucky in that sense it could have ended much worse, both for Petr and myself. I don’t remember much from the accident,” De Plus wrote.
“What I remember is everything was quiet, we were laughing and I suddenly found myself on the ground, not knowing exactly what happened. It was a weird experience and painful too. Finally, I realized that Petr and I had been hit by the truck.”
De Plus and Vakoc were treated in a hospital in Mbombela in the east of the country where they were visited by Bob Jungels, who was training with them at the time of the crash, as well as coach Koen Pelgrim and soigneur Peter De Coninck
“After the accident, Petr and I were together at all the times, which gave some comfort to be able to talk with your team-mate and good friend,” De Plus continued.
“Of course, it was also very hard to see your teammate suffering so much. We knew that Petr was in a more critical situation than I was and the first days, especially before the surgery, were tough. I couldn’t sleep before I knew the result of Petr’s surgery.
“I spent six days at the hospital, which is a long time, but Bob, Koen and Peter came to visit us, which gave a big morale boost every time. I was feeling much, much better when they were there. I think you could see my face changing just when they went in through the door. You are there at the hospital the whole day and then you see your friends.”
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De Plus was discharged from hospital in South Africa and travelled back to his home in Belgium last week, and said that although he was focusing on recovery, he was looking forward to future races with Jungels and Vakoc.
“I think if we ever race together in the future we can go much deeper than anybody else. We will do great races together. We will forever have a special relationship together and will remember this until the rest of our days.
“Over the coming weeks, I will try to recover by enjoying some time with the family at home and then I will look forward to restart training when my body is healed.
“I will have to walk with crutches over the next period to limit the pressure on my pelvis but I will mostly stay in bed or in the couch to give my pelvis the best possible recovery. I am ending up becoming a quite good FIFA player but I cannot wait to get back to training and to racing again.