Kris Boeckmans may be happier than anyone else to be at the Lotto Soudal training camp in Mallorca, even if he is not training with the team. Instead, the Belgian is working to get back into shape after a crash in the Vuelta a Espana which nearly ended not only his career but also his life.
“I almost died six times,” he told nieuwsblad.nl. “Today I know how lucky I have been. It was ten times worse than described in the press.”
Boeckmans crashed during the eighth stage of the Vuelta, suffering facial trauma with several fractures, concussion, three broken ribs, pneumothorax, laceration of the lung, bleeding of the lung and swollen pulmonary tissue. He was kept in an induced coma for two weeks. The Belgian was apparently taking a drink from his bidon when he hit a hole in the road and crashed hard. He revealed how he almost died several times but was saved thanks to excellent medical care.
“The first time was when I swallowed my tongue and was bleeding in the lungs. They took me not to one of the local hospitals but directly to a university hospital, of which there are only nine in Spain.”
The 28-year-old has only recently gotten back on his bike.
“The last few days I have cycled two and a half hours and actually an hour with the rest of the team. And I can do it without being completely exhausted for the rest of the day,” he explained.
Because of his facial fractures, the Belgian could not eat solid food for a time. “I lost 15 kg. But now I have gained 17kg back. It has been the hardest,” he said. “I had to drink shakes, eat soups and astronaut meals and I had to consume 4,500 calories a day - double that of a normal human being.”
He remains optimistic but realistic about his future.
“The question is whether everything will be as before. Frankly, I do not know. But I have already made so much progress, it is a good sign," he said. “Initially there was talk of a comeback to competition next December. Then it was moved to the Belgian championship in June seemed realistic. Now they say May.”