Wout van Aert has completed his first ride since his horror crash at the Tour de France 2019.
The Belgian came off his bike on one of the final corners of the stage 13 individual time trial as he battled with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) for the overall race lead. Race officials covered Van Aert with roadside banners as they waited for medical staff to attend to the heavy cut he had sustained to his leg.
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Nearly two months later, Van Aert is back on a bike, albeit an e-bike, and completing a short ride which is undoubtedly a big step forward in his rehabilitation.
The young Belgian rode for 7.5km, taking him just over 16 minutes on a flat circuit. He averaged 27.8km/h, reaching a maximum speed of 57.2km/h.
Speaking about his crash before returning to his bike for the first time, Van Aert said it could have been the end of his career, with complications with his surgery on the night of his crash in France leading to his need for further surgery, delaying his rehabilitation process.
“That fall could have been the end of my career,” Van Aert told Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
“They had simply let go of a tendon, as if that would turn out fine. On one side I do understand how that happened but such an injury is also not that common, not everyone has that know-how,” the Jumbo-Visma rider said.
However, Van Aert has revealed he is now pain-free and is learning to walk properly again, which will take time. “Taking stairs is not going well, neither are long walks, but a few hundred metres I can manage. I can also drive my car again. My life is fairly normal,” Van Aert said.
Van Aert still does not have a return date and so the winter cyclo-cross season is up in the air for the three-time world champion, but he’s prioritising his recovery over thoughts of returning to racing.