Raisin rules out return to pro ranks, considers Paralympic competition
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Raisin rules out return to pro ranks, considers Paralympic competition

by Conal Andrews at 6:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
American rider still coping with effects of 2006 crash in France

Saul RaisinOnce regarded to be a future star in the sport, American rider Saul Raisin has ruled out any thoughts of a comeback to the pro ranks due to ongoing issues relating to a bad accident in 2006. However the former Crédit Agricole rider is considering trying out Paralympic competition.

“My dream is now possibly to cycle on the U.S. Paralympic team. You never know what will happen in the future,” he told the French website Cyclim’Actu.

Four and a half years ago, the then-23 year old crashed heavily towards the end of stage one of the Circuit de la Sarthe, suffering a bad head injury. His condition worsened due to heavy bleeding, he became seriously ill and he went into a six-day coma.

Fortunately, Raisin improved and regained mobility over several months, returning to training and riding the 2007 US time trial championships. However the decision was eventually taken that a return to racing would be too dangerous; three years later, that position remains the same.

“The doctors told me that someone could never fully recover after so much damage to the brain. My left side was paralysed, my arms and my left leg are still much weaker today. I also have many psychological problems. For example, I have huge problems with concentration. It has been four years since the accident and I still have a lot of therapy ahead of me,” he said.

“In 2007, I thought I was mentally ready to race again. But when I looked more closely, I realized that this dream was impossible. My left side is so weak that it is impossible to resume cycling in a professional manner ... I would certainly also had balance problems in the bunch ... 180 cyclists at 50 km / h, it is not so simple to manage ... Especially as my concentration and the speed of information processing have declined, I risk being hurt or hurting someone else. It would be very dangerous.”

Since his accident, Raisin has set up the Raisin Hope foundation, which aims to help others affected by brain injury. “With the help of many of my friends and my family in America, I created my foundation to help people in the same situation as me with brain damage,” he said. “It's still very small but I really enjoy trying to help others.”

Raisin showed his ability early on by winning the King of the Mountains title in the 2003 Tour de l’Avenir, and by taking a mountain stage in the Tour de Langkawi just weeks before his bad crash. Nowadays, he still rides his bike, but does so to keep fit and for enjoyment. However should he follow through on his plans of riding Paralypic competition, things will inevitably become more structured.

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