Laurens De Plus: Mental damage is perhaps even greater than the physical
Feb 19 2018 10:20 pm CET

Laurens De Plus: Mental damage is perhaps even greater than the physical
Laurens De Plus: Mental damage is perhaps even greater than the physical
Photo of Laurens De Plus (c)Sigfrid Eggers

Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors) has suffered two serious incidents in the last months and knows that he has to recover mentally as well as physically.

De Plus fell over the guardrail at the 2017 Il Lombardia, suffering a small avulsion fracture of the lateral part of the tibial plateau, and some weeks ago he was hit by a truck during a training camp in South Africa and was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture to the acetabulum on the right side of his pelvis and a microfracture to his sacrum.

"We were at the end of a 4-hour training and only had to ride to the hotel," recalls the rider of the day he, along with Bob Jungels and Petr Vakoc, was hit by a vehicle to Belgian broadcaster Sporza. "Suddenly I was lying on the floor, I was in a lot of pain and I realised that I was hit by something. It was all hectic and unreal and only after a few minutes I realised that I had been hit by a truck."

Vakoc was the one that suffered the most serious injuries of the trio. "Vakoc had the biggest hit. I heard that in the first minutes he couldn't move his legs and then you realise that it was very bad," he said. "I had a lot of pain in my pelvis. I knew immediately that it was broken and I had blood in my lungs. Of course, you want to be helped as quickly as possible, but the nearest hospital was one and a half hour away.

"We spent almost an hour on the side of the road. The people in the village did everything they could to help us. There was a nurse who gave us first aid and she also tried to calm us down a bit. As soon as we arrived at the hospital, we received the best care."

The rider has struggled mentally since the accident happened. "The mental damage was certainly big in the first weeks. I had the feeling that everything was lost," De Plus explained. "It can be over from one day to the next and you realise that. Vakoc and I were in the hospital together. You can raise your thumb on a photo on Instagram, but you don't want anyone to see what we have experienced there.

"There have been very difficult moments, which I sometimes still have, especially when I consider that it could have been even worse. I had just finished my recovery from the fall in Il Lombardia and then this happens. Mental damage is perhaps even greater than the physical."

But the positive thing out of this hard episode is the strengthening of the bond between the three riders. "My relationship with Petr and Bob has become extremely strong and that will forever connect us," he affirmed. "It will also make us stronger in the course. If I have to do something for them or vice-versa, we will go as far as possible.

"We also have contact with each other every day. Petr is still in the hospital with broken spinal vertebrae and can use all the support. It will not be easy for him either."

De Plus now expects to recover on time to ride the Giro d'Italia. "In South Africa, I felt that I was growing towards my top form, now I have to start from scratch again," he commented. "My big goal of the year was the Giro d'Italia and I still hope for that, but I also have to be realistic. First I have to see how everything evolves and then see when I can make my comeback."
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