Jan Bakelants looks back on nightmare day of Il Lombardia
Oct 22 2017 06:44 pm CET

Jan Bakelants looks back on nightmare day of Il Lombardia
Jan Bakelants looks back on nightmare day of Il Lombardia
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JAN BAKELANTS
AG2R LA MONDIALE

Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale) was the worst affected by the Il Lombardia crashes. Now, the rider looks back on a day on which worse things could have happened to him.

The Belgian rider had the same kind of crash in the same place where Laurens De Plus went over the guardrail and the result was seven ribs and four vertebrae broken by the impact.

"I try to think about it as little as possible," said Bakelants to Belgian broadcaster Sporza. "I fell six or seven metres deep and landed on my back on a rock. I don't know exactly how everything happened. I came to the curve where De Plus had already fallen, just behind the favourites group. I think someone stopped because Laurens had fallen but then I just remember that I flew over the guardrail and fell down."

"I immediately realised that it was serious. I felt I could not sit upright but I could still move my legs and that gave me a comforting feeling. I was very well mentally but I realised that what other people were doing was unorthodox. I understand that these were not the easiest conditions to work in but they were not gentle. When you have to take someone out of those bushes, you know that still, anything can happen. The smallest movement can be fatal with such a back injury."

But the bad moment for Bakelants was not over after he was moved back up to the road. "I can say that I was lucky that nothing too serious happened after my fall because all the conditions were there to make it worse," he explained. "When I was on the asphalt again, someone with a motorcycle wanted to pass. The man did not have control of the situation.

"He thought he had put the vehicle in neutral, but it suddenly moved to the front and rode over my leg. It is crazy that something like that can happen at the WorldTour level. And afterwards, I didn't even get an apology."

But that nightmare day is now in the past and the rider is back in his home after surgery to stabilise one of the vertebra fractures. "In a month new scans will be taken and the doctors will be able to tell if that vertebra has reconnected. Doctors are confident, but they can't give a 100% guarantee," he commented.

"Now we are hoping that my body will do the necessary. Only when that happens, I can start planning to come back to my old self again. I'm glad I got a chance to make a return. I've realised that I escaped the worst by just millimetres."
Photo of Jan Bakelants by CyclingPub / Mary Cardenas





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