Nikias Arndt (Giant-Shimano, right) was the victor on stage 3, winning the bunch kick just ahead of Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Belisol) and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (also Giant-Shimano).

Boeckmans to undergo extensive facial surgery on Thursday, won’t be able to speak for two weeks afterwards

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Recently awoken from the induced coma he was put in by doctors after a heavy fall in the Vuelta a España, Kris Boeckmans faces lengthy surgery on Thursday to help him on the next step of recovery.

The Lotto Soudal rider suffered major facial injuries when he crashed and landed face-first during the eighth stage of the Vuelta.

He also suffered a concussion, three broken ribs, pneumothorax, laceration of the lung, bleeding of the lung and swollen pulmonary tissue in the fall.

The other issues have settled down, although recovery continues in relation to those. The next step is an operation in the hospital in Genk which could last eight to nine hours.

The team’s press officer Arne Houtekier spoke to Het Nieuwsblad and gave the latest update. He said that the worst was behind the rider, but that more needed to be done.

“The first steps towards recovery are the heaviest, shaky steps. The life-threatening situation is over, he’s back with us, but still a long rehabilitation awaits him.”

He said that he visted him in hospital on Tuesday and that he has lost ten kilos in weight and is experiencing difficulties in speaking.

“Normally he will undergo surgery Thursday to his face. Major surgery, eight to nine hours,” he said. “The fractures to his face, his jaw bones, teeth, nose, upper jaw, lower jaw very much need to be rectified.” He added that whether or not futher interventions will be needed will only become clear during the operation itself.

Once the surgery is completed, he said that the rider will be forbidden from speaking for two weeks in order to allow the injuries to heal. It is yet to be determined if he will spend that time in the hospital but, even if he is released early, he will be there at least until next week.

“He is on the right track, but he has a long way to go yet,” said Houtekier. “We are in any case relieved that the hardest part is behind us now.”

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