Poels returns to racing seven months after devastating Tour de France crash
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Poels returns to racing seven months after devastating Tour de France crash

by Shane Stokes at 9:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Volta ao Algarve, Injury
 
Dutchman will join Vacansoleil team in Portugal

Wout PoelsSeven months after the Tour de France crash which almost cost him a kidney, Wout Poels will finally return to competition tomorrow when he lines out in the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal.

The Vacansoleil DCM rider is now strong enough to race again, making a long but successful return to solid form after falling in the mass pileup on stage six, and suffering kidney damage as well as a ruptured spleen, a bruised lung and three broken ribs.

However he clearly won’t know how his true condition is until he has had a chance to compete, and so is excited to reach that stage tomorrow.

“I feel like a novice that must do a Classic tomorrow, I’m really eager,” he said. “Last week I was in Spain and I have done the finishing touches [to his training – ed.]. I feel that I am ready and that I should be able to join the squad.”

Poels will line out alongside team-mates Thomas De Gendt, Björn Leukemans, Willem Wauters, Frederik Veuchelen, Lieuwe Westra and Bert-Jan Lindeman.

“Now I have to see what level I have here,” he said. “The stages are a nice length in terms of kilometres. I will gradually get more of an insight into what goals I can target.”

Prior to his crash, he was one of the most promising young Dutch riders. He finished second on two stages of the 2011 Vuelta a España, and last year won a stage and took the best young rider classification in the Tour of Luxembourg. He was also second overall in the race, third overall in the Vuelta a Murcia and won the best young rider award in Tirreno – Adriatico.

It is likely to take him some time to get the necessary racing fitness to fight for wins, but rejoining the peloton is already a big achievement.

Last November he joined team-mates Lieuwe Westra and Bert-Jan Lindeman in a mini training camp in Alicante and said then that he was encouraged by the progress he had made.

“It’s a huge boost…it shows that I can continue as a professional cyclist,” he told De Telegraaf, while also accepting that he needed to be patient. “Already I understand that I am in the short term I should not expect too much from my body. But I have always been convinced that I can return to the top as a cyclist.”

The 25 year old visited his badly injured team-mate Johnny Hoogerland in hospital last week and has both a reminder of how bad his own situation was seven months ago and also of what progress he has been able to make since then.

Equally, seeing Poels will have helped Hoogerland take encouragement of how time, rest and good treatment should also help his own situation. He was hit by a car early last week while training in Spain and suffered several broken ribs, fractured vertebrae, a bruised liver and some internal bleeding.

His team-mate’s return to competition is one that he will hope to also make later this year.

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