Jan Bakelants is unsure if he will ever race a bike again after breaking his back in a dramatic crash at Il Lombardia three weeks ago, revealing that someone accidentally drove a motorbike over his leg while he was receiving treatment on the road.
Bakelants went over the barrier and into a ravine at the same corner as Laurens De Plus on the descent from the Muro di Sormano, breaking four vertebrae in his back as well as seven ribs.
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Now back in Belgium and recovering at home, the Ag2r La Mondiale rider has had a little time to reflect on the crash, criticising some of the treatment that he received at the scene.
“I understand that it was not the easiest conditions to work in. They had to put me on a stretcher, but it wasn’t done gently,” Bakelants told Sporza.
“I think I can say I was lucky enough that nothing serious happened after the fall. All the conditions to make it worse were there.
“When I was on the asphalt again someone wanted a moped. The man was not in control, thinking that he had put his vehicle in neutral, but then went straight on and drove over my leg. I think it’s a incredible that this can happen in a WorldTour race.
“I was also surprised that there were no helicopters, the evacuation had to happen with an ambulance. I was very worried, was in shock and had a lot of pain and still had to do a lot of descent in the ambulance. It took a long time.”
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After the crash on October 7, Bakelants was kept in hospital in Italy for a few days, before being transferred back to Belgium, undergoing surgery on his broken vertebrae.
The 31-year-old was then allowed home on Saturday, but said that he would have to wait and see if the operation had been successful, and couldn’t be sure if he would ever be able to race again.
“In just a month, they will take new scans and the doctors will be able to tell if the vertebrae have reconnected.
“The doctors are confident, but of course they cannot give a 100 per cent. Now it’s up to my body to do what is necessary. Only when that happens can I start planning to get back to my old self again.”