Saxo Bank's Jonny Bellis heads home after tragic accident
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saxo Bank's Bellis heads home after tragic accident

by VeloNation Press at 4:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

This weekend Saxo Bank announced that British rider Johnny Bellis will be released from the Wellington Hospital in London to return to his home on Isle of Man. On September 19, 2009, the weekend prior to the Mendrisio World Championships, Saxo Bank team officials received word that Bellis had been in a severe accident while riding his scooter and was not expected to survive.

The team's Managing Director Trey Greenwood said he and team owner Bjarne Riis received the news en route to a meeting in Lugano. “Bjarne just kind of relayed the message to me and we drove in silence to our meeting," explained Greenwood. "We were both completely shocked. It's hard to describe in words how I felt but I found it almost impossible to concentrate on the meeting. I just had so many thoughts, emotions and questions racing through my mind. I really struggled. I'll never forget that day. The sun was shining and it was raining at the same time.”

Bellis suffering massive head injuries as a result of his accident. After multiple surgical procedures to address the complicated injuries, he was placed in a medically induced coma for four weeks while doctors tried to stabilize his condition. During that time, a feeding tube came disconnected, pumping its contents into his body in the area around the stomach causing a condition known as peritonitis. This required more emergency surgery to save his life yet again.

By the time the 21 year old was ready to be moved from Italy to the Princess Grace Hospital in London, his weight had dropped from a fit 70 kilos to an emaciated 46 kilos. After laying in a coma for so long and losing so much weight, the young Brit's body had developed a whole new set of problems and complications that needed to be addressed.

The fact that Bellis was in such incredible physical condition at the time of the crash gave his body an opportunity to recover faster than expected and he began to make great progress.

“Johnny has been working extremely hard with all disciplines of his rehabilitation program here at the Wellington Hospital," explained Katie Davies, Senior Physiotherapist at the Wellington Hospital to the Saxo Bank team. "He is approaching all the tasks set before him with determination and motivation. His strength and endurance is improving out of sight on a weekly basis. He has been attending strength sessions in the gym, cooking in the kitchen, clocking miles on the exercise bike and going out in the community. The team treating him could not be happier with his progress at this stage of his recovery.”

Recently Riis and Greenwood went to visit Bellis and his father in London, a trip Riis said he had wanted to take for a long time. “I went there to see him and talk to him and meet his father," said Riis. “I went to see Johnny on a personal level, as a young man that I care about, not as a cyclist. We all went for a walk and stopped by a café to have a coffee."

The Saxo Bank owner said the subject quickly changed showing Bellis' determination to get back to the top level of the sport. "But you know, once we sat down, we ended up speaking about nutrition, weight gain and training all afternoon anyway," added Riis. "There was just no way around it. Johnny wants to come back and we are motivated to help him. But he has no pressure from our side, only backing and support. Bradley McGee is working with him to get his training started and the team will be there for him with anything he needs. Our sponsors have been great. Science in Sport was providing him with nutrition products before we even knew it and Tacx has already sent him the best turbotrainer they make. Everyone in and around the team is excited to see Johnny back on the road,” he concluded.

Now Bellis will begin the next chapter of his life and rebuild his strength to once again ride as a professional cyclist.


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