Britain's Jonny Bellis (Saxo Bank) will start his first stage race in a year at the Tour of Britain this weekend as he steps up his comeback from a serious scooter crash.
Bellis crashed his scooter last September in Italy and suffered serious head injuries. The Saxo Bank rider was kept in an induced coma for several weeks before slowly making a recovery. He has undergone intense physiotherapy but has made a remarkable recovery.
He competed in the Isle of Man and UK road nationals in June and raced the first 150 kilometres of the GP Plouay last month. However the eight-day stage race – which starts in Rochdale and ends in London – will be a test of his endurance as well as his racing speed.
“It’s my first stage race in a year,” he told Cyclingnews from his base in Italy.
“It’s going to be tough but if I make it through that would be great. It’s got to be a day by day thing for me, it really does. Once I get to the third or fourth day I’ll start to struggle but I want to make it to the finish.”
Bellis will form part of a strong Saxo Bank team at the race, that includes the likes of Baden Cooke, Sebastian Haedo, Alex Rasmussen and Richie Porte. While the team won’t be putting too much pressure on the Briton to perform he knows that the race will mark an important stepping stone in his comeback.
“I don’t think the team expect too much of me but whatever job I have I’ll do my best for the guys. We’re going there with a strong team so we should be able to do something in the race.”
“Most days will end in bunch sprints and we’ve got three good sprinters so we’ll be looking to do something in the sprints and the GC.”
With a contract signed with a team for next year, Bellis will be back racing on the ProTour scene again in 2011 but before he starts training for the new year he’ll face one more operation after the Tour of Britain concludes.
“From the accident I’ve incurred a hernia on my stomach and I’ll head to London to have that operated on. I’ll be in hospital for a week and the recovery will be a month. After that I’ll start training for next season.”