Belgian pro cyclist Julian Mertens in medically induced coma after crash during training

Bingoal WB rider undergoes spinal surgery after incident, also broke arm, ribs and his jaw in the crash on Wednesday

Julian Mertens in a team promo shot
(Image credit: Bingoal WB)

Belgian professional cyclist Julian Mertens has been put in a medically induced coma after a serious crash in training on Wednesday. The 25-year-old has also undergone spinal surgery after obtaining multiple severe injuries in the incident in Belgium this week.

Mertens, who rides for the Bingoal WB team, was taken to the university hospital in Antwerp on Wednesday after he was involved in what his team said was an “accident” while out training. The wider circumstances of the incident are currently not known.

Due to his significant injuries, Mertens was placed into a medically induced coma to enable doctors to immediately deal with his injuries, the worst being the one involving his spine.

On Thursday morning, Mertens' team said he was “operated on with success”.

The 25-year-old will undergo further surgery on the damage to his jaw later today, the team said. Other injuries he sustained include a broken arm and multiple ribs.

A further update on his condition from Bingoal WB said: “He will be kept in an artificial coma for a few more days, according to his progression.”

Born in Turnhout, Mertens came through the under-23 development squad setup at Lotto-Dstny. He then turned professional with the Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise team in 2020. Numerous other well known Belgian professionals started out with the same squad, including Thomas De Gendt, Tim Declerq and Yves Lampaert.

One of the first WorldTour races Mertens took part in was the 2020 edition of La Flèche Wallonne, which was won by Switzerland’s Marc Hirschi of UAE Team Emirates.

After a three year stint with Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Mertens signed for Bingoal WB at the start of the current season. Earlier this spring, he rode both the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège as part of his new squads Classics campaign. He also rode both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the E3 Classic won by Dylan van Baarle and Wout van Aert, respectively, earlier this year . 

The most high profile results of Mertens' career to date was ninth on the opening stage of the Belgium Tour last year, where he finished ninth behind Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). His last race was the Ronde van Limburg, where he finished 21st.

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Tom Thewlis

Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. He has reported from a wide range of races and events including the Tour de France and World Championships.