Bellis has endured a supremely difficult last few years. In 2009 the 23-year-old was involved in a scooter accident that nearly cost him his life. Bellis lay in an Italian hospital bed, a tangle of tubes hanging from his 45-kilogramme frame. He couldn’t eat and only communicated via scrawled notes or rasped one-word instructions to his traumatized parents. Pronounced beyond help on his admission to hospital on September 19 and then told he would never walk again, he went on to make a remarkable recovery.
He raced sporadically last season but further complications with his health including a further operation and a bout of bronchitis ruined his final season with Saxo Bank. Saxo Bank had given him a year-long contract extension in 2010.
Bellis still hopes that the remaining few races he has left this year, starting with next week’s Paris-Brussels.
“The team and Bjarne Riis stuck by me when I was ill and obviously I appreciate all the help but the situation is that I’m short of racing this year. After battling with my injuries and the accident my thoughts were always about returning to racing and I don’t want that to finish. I want to continue and build and even though I don’t have a team for next year I’m determined to carry on. I have a lot to offer,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’m back to full health now and there’s no outstanding issues. I just need a good winter behind me which is something I’ve not had for a number of years. So if I can continue to do as many races I can by the time the season has finished then maybe I can find a team for next year and build from there.”
Bellis is honest enough to know that teams will be taking a gamble. With no results or points from the previous two seasons there is no guarantee that he will be able to produce results. However his determination along with the belief that he can fulfill the promise that saw him to a medal at the 2007 Under 23 road race world championships in Stuttgart are undeterred.
“In terms of results and on paper I’ve done nothing in the last two years but people that know my situation will give me a chance. I have come a long way since the injuries I’ve had. I just need that chance,” he told Cyclingnews.
“The talent I had hasn’t been knocked out of my body since my accident. I’m convinced of that. I’m sure there are there are people out there that will be thinking Bellis can’t make it back and all that shit but I’m determined and I’ve come so far. I know that it’s within touching distance.”