Bellis confident his fitness is improving, will make 2011 racing debut in Challenge Mallorca races
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Bellis confident his fitness is improving, will make 2011 racing debut in Challenge Mallorca races

by Shane Stokes at 5:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
Hernia operation has solved breathing problems which affected him since serious scooter crash

Jonny BellisTeam Saxo Bank-SunGard rider Jonny Bellis had a difficult 2010 season because of the after-effects of his serious accident in September 2009, but he reports that things are going much better now for him.

“I am happy with where I am for this time of the year, for sure,” he told VeloNation in recent days. “I know I have a lot more good work to put in before the season starts, but things are going fine. I’ve been building up the training each week, doing the gym three times a week and three to four hours most days.”

Bellis was involved in a bad motor scooter accident in Italy on September 19th, 2009, and suffered serious head injuries. He was placed in a medically induced coma for four weeks; during that time, a feeding tube came disconnected, flooding the area around his stomach and causing a condition known as peritonitis. This required more emergency surgery. His weight dropped from 70 kilos to just 46 and after he was finally released from hospital, he faced a long period of time to try to get his strength back.

Bellis returned to racing in this year’s Manx national championships, and also started the British nationals. After doing 150 kilometres of the GP Ouest France in Plouay, he lined out in the Tour of Britain. However he was unlucky that the start of the first stage was run off at a very rapid pace, causing him to be distanced and to pull out.

One of the issues was his breathing; it was discovered that he had a hernia in his stomach which was hindering it, and he underwent an operation to correct it. He said that this has made a big difference. “Because things are now all fixed up in the stomach, my breathing is so much better than before the Tour of Britain,” he explained.

“That made it hard, and so too the fact that I was starting a race like that when I had done so little racing before it. I took a break after the operation, having about three weeks off, but my condition is relatively good now.”

Directeur sportif Brad McGee feels he is doing well. “I think his general level of fitness is good, but we really need to drop the hammer on his performance levels,” he told VeloNation this weekend. “He now should be at a normal level relative to most of his adversaries in the peloton. I’m hoping he will just step up into the season and be able to do a normal programme.

“He has to be exposed to the early camps, be exposed to the early races and then you build up from there.”

Bellis has travelled to the Saxo Bank-SunGard team’s first training camp in Fuerteventura. He’ll spend a fortnight there, then return to his base in Italy. Two more camps will follow: one in Spain in January, and then a second Fuerteventura stay in February.

Challenge Mallorca will mark 2011 competitive debut:

McGee is cautiously optimistic about the 2011 season, believing that he will fare better in races. He puts his Tour of Britain problems down to the breathing complications, and also the timing of the event. “Last year, after all his injuries and all his problems, the race was in the part of the season when everybody is just hot to go,” he explained. “I think any bike rider who had to start their season in August – forgetting problems, forgetting injuries, forgetting the crash they had – would have difficulty in their first races. He’ll have better preparation this time.”

Jonny BellisBellis has had a decent bit of time to keep building form and will get things underway with the Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca events in early February. “He will do some of the races in Majorca,” said McGee. “That is good to start with as you can dip in and out, get a bit of exposure [when you want it],” he said, referring to the fact that there is a block of five one-day races run.

“He’ll then do another training camp, after which he will head to the Three Days of West Vlaanderen in Belgium. The rest of the season will follow on from that.”

Bellis is still just 22 years of age and so he has time on his side. He’s also a very talented rider, having taken European titles as a junior and under 23, and having finished third in the Espoir worlds in Stuttgart in 2007. He and McGee believe he is on track to have a solid season: this week will allow him to get some important feedback as to how his training is going, and how his condition compares to the other Saxo Bank-SunGard riders at the training camp.


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