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The long road back for Lotto Soudal rider Kris Boeckmans after his near-catastrophic crash in the Vuelta a España has reached a new stage, with his team describing his increased training as an important step forward.
The Belgian 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.
He was placed in an induced coma and after his condition became stable enough to bring him back to consciousness, he underwent lengthy facial surgery.
Boeckmans returned to cycling on November 1, doing two rides of 35 minutes. His team states that he went out for a two hour ride on Sunday, something it describes as “a new and important step in the rehabilitation process of Kris.”
The team doctor Servaas Bingé has now given an update on his progression, including the medical information the team has to hand.
“We can be positive about the recovery of Kris, but we remain careful,” he said. “Recent scans showed a very good neurological evolution. It takes time for a concussion to heal and we will need to keep monitoring it in the future.”
He said that the effects of the concussion are abating as time passes. “At this moment light and sound don’t bother him anymore and the pressure on his eyes has disappeared.”
Other parts of his body are still gradually progressing. “His lungs were examined too,” he continued. “We can talk about a positive evolution as well, but the lungs haven’t completely healed yet. For example his lung capacity isn’t the same as before his crash.
“The facial fractures, for which he underwent surgery a few weeks ago, are practically healed. Only the damaged skin and fat tissue still needs some time to heal. And Kris will get some dental corrections.”
Bingé said that he considered the rehabilitation to be going well, but said that progress invariably slows as time passes and the initial injuries fade.
In the meantime, Boeckmans is ready and able to work hard.
“Kris now exercises every day and says he’s less tired than four weeks ago when he only went three times a week to the Sport Medical Centre ‘Nottebohm Fitlab’ in Brecht,” he explained.
Now 28 years of age, Boeckmans had the best season of his career in 2015. He won Le Samyn and Nokere Koerse early on, then picked up two stages plus the overall in the Tour de Picardie.
Those results were followed by a stage win, the points classification and the overall standings in the World Ports Classic.
He’s determined to try to get back to where he was. “Kris has a huge drive,” said Bingé. “|He trains and works hard, taking all tips into account.
“Of course he still has difficult moments, but Kris notices he is rewarded for his efforts and energy and that motivates him.”