Bellis to start Ster ZLM Toer today, will miss nationals
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bellis to start Ster ZLM Toer today, will miss nationals

by Shane Stokes at 8:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Briton returns to racing after long break

Jonny BellisJonny Bellis is continuing his comeback from a severe accident in September 2009, and will today return to racing after a two and a half month absence. He will compete in the Ster ZLM Toer, but has decided to give the British nationals a miss in order to concentrate on preparing for races later this summer.

Bellis last competed in the Hel van het Mergelland on April 2nd. He pulled out from that due to breathing issues; since then he has been getting medical and physiological assessments done (pictured) while also training. Those assessments have shown that his form is improving and while he must continue to work on his breathing muscles, he can return to competition.

“From the team’s point of view, they wanted to see exactly what the specialists said before getting me to race again,” he said in his latest VeloNation blog update. “As we have those results now, they have decided to put me in the Ster ZLM Toer. I wasn’t originally down for it and I came back to the UK for a bit of down time.

“I’m not really prepared for it, but the team said not to worry, there is no pressure, just go in and do one or two days and then just stop and go home. We will have a sit down after that, put together the training and go from there in terms of when my next races will be.”

Bellis has faced a long journey back towards fitness. He showed his talent for a young age and took a gold medal for team pursuit in the European track championships in 2006. One year later he won the Under 23 points and scratch races at the same event, but it was his bronze medal in a big sprint at the Under 23 world road race championships which really grabbed the attention.

He signed a good contract with the Saxo Bank team and took two top ten finishes in the 2008 Tour of Britain. His career continued to progress and he looked set for a strong future, only for his future – on and off the bike – to be put in serious danger when he had a bad scooter accident on September 19th 2009.

Although it was initially feared that he wouldn’t survive, Bellis has fought back and come a long way since being in a coma. He was released from hospital in March 2010, returned to training over a period of time and did some races last year. However he experienced breathing difficulties, and these continued into this season.

As he said in an earlier blog with VeloNation, he planned to undergo a range of tests to determine what the problem was. That’s now been done, and he’s pleased to report that indications are good. “A couple of weeks ago I went to London for five days to have tests done, and saw the best guys in the country in this area in terms of breathing.

“They come from a sporting background themselves, so they could understand what I was going through. We did tests like a VO2 max test, measuring the lungs through the machine and things like that. It was all pretty positive. I had done a VO2 max the month before, and this time round the improvement was massive. So things are going in the right direction.

“Anyway, as we suspected before, it turns out that the breathing issue comes from the fact that I had so much muscle wastage in the accident. The muscles around the abs which control your breathing are pretty weak; in terms of muscle and strength, my legs have improved quicker than the breathing muscles, so it is the case that when it comes to a hard effort, my breathing can’t produce the same oxygen as my legs need. It means I can’t push myself as hard as I want.”

Bellis will begin racing today, will do a couple of stages in the event, and then will continue to train hard. He has spoken about his racing programme, saying that he’s likely to compete in US races in August, and hopes to do other races before then. However he’s the national road race championships is one event which is off the cards this time round.

“One race I won’t be at is the nationals. I’ve decided to give it a miss. From my point of view, it is a bit of a waste of time…I just don’t want to go there for the sake of it,” he said. “I prefer to just stay away, do my training and build towards my next races.”

Read Jonny’s latest blog update here:


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