Nocentini makes return in Suisse after breaking leg
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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nocentini makes return in Suisse after breaking leg

by Samuel Morrison at 5:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Tuscan looks ahead to the Tour de France after 8 days in yellow last year

Rinaldo Nocentini successfully made his return to racing at the Tour de Suisse yesterday in Lugano. The Italian of team AG2R La Mondiale fought back from a broken leg at the start of the year.

Nocentini crashed 106 days ago, February 27, just a few kilometres from the finish of the GP Insubria. He slid through a left-hand curve on a downhill, hit some hay bails and then went over a guardrail.

The crash was a disappointment for the 32-year-old rider from Tuscany, who held the yellow jersey last year at the Tour de France for eight days. He had been targeting Paris-Nice, but instead he passed March in bed. Yesterday, though, he was back and finished 38 seconds behind winner Fabian Cancellara.

He doubted his return.

"It's the first thing I thought, just in those two or three hours from the fall to doctor's visit. I saw my leg shattered and my foot twisted, and I had never felt a pain so strong," Nocentini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It was the first serious accident of my career and my first serious fracture. I was afraid that the diagnosis was going to be the end of me. I accepted my fate, the verdict, which put my heart in peace. I knew I would never give up, it is not what racers do."

Nocentini faced surgery. Doctors put two metal plates in his leg, one in his tibia and one in his fibula, using 13 screws.

"I was off my feet for 35 days and then 10 days with my leg semi-mobile. Then I was on the home trainer. After two weeks on the trainer, two months the accident, I had my best moment when I went out on the open road. The trainer does not give you the same the sensations: the asphalt, the open air and then the feeling that your legs are powering the bike along. I was born again."

He worked on his recovery in Pisa, Monday through Friday, nine hours a day.

"I believed, I hoped, I wanted it. It was physically hard and played on my mind, I tried to avoid feeling discouraged."

Nocentini wanted to have a crack at the Tour de France's classification this year, but now he is hoping to just make AG2R's Tour de France team.

"I already did a week-long training camp with the team and tried the Madeleine [stage nine], 4000 meters of climbing. I did my last test on a six-kilometre climb, Faeto, close to home and I did in the same time as before the crash."

AG2R will likely select Nocentini in its nine-man team since he gave them a lot of publicity last year. Following the Tour de Suisse, the French team will make its decision.


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