Jan Bakelants could be back on his bike in the coming weeks and back on the open roads in the new year, as the Belgian's recovery from a horror crash at Il Lombardia progresses in encouraging fashion.
Bakelants feared for his career after undergoing surgery a month ago on the four vertebrae and seven ribs that were broken when he flipped over the roadside barrier and into a ravine on the descent of the Muro di Sormano.
"It would be a pity if I can not ride a bike, but my girlfriend, my daughter and my family are much more important," the 31-year-old said last month.
It looks like Bakelants does indeed have a future as a professional cyclist, as Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports today that his recovery is going well and that progress is being made through tri-weekly visits to a rehabilitation centre in Leuven.
"It is ideal for strengthening my back and at the same time building up some basic condition," said the AG2R La Mondiale rider.
The next important step will be the results of tests this time next month to see if the bones in his back have fully stitched back together.
"If that goes according to plan, I can cycle outside again from January 1," said Bakelants. "Soon I will maybe be riding on the rollers."
The titanium rods in Bakelants' back must remain there until April but, according to Het Nieuwsblad, they would not prevent him from returning to racing, though there is no estimated date for a possible return.