In spite of sustaining a fracture to his hip at the Santos Tour Down Under, Frédéric Guesdon (FDJ-BigMat) is determined to return to action in time to race Paris-Roubaix in April, before bringing the curtain down on his career.
Guesdon has returned from Australia to his home in Brittany, and must spend a month off the bike before he can begin training again. Nonetheless, he remains determined to end his career at the classic where he made his name with a surprise victory in 1997.
“The doctor reckons that the fracture of the hip is a good one, and that I should be able to get back,” Guesdon told Ouest France. “I have to rest for a month and then I’m going to start training again straightaway. There’ll be five or six weeks left from there to the date I’ve set for the end of my career.
“I really want to finish at Roubaix, it’s the race where I emerged, and one where I’ve taken so much pleasure for over fifteen years.”
Lying in the Royal Hospital in Adelaide last week, Guesdon admitted that he believed his career was already over. “In hospital, I thought it was the end, I thought that was going to be my destiny,” he said. “You don’t always choose the end of your career. But I was well looked after, and in spite of the language barrier, the hospital staff even made the effort to speak French with me.”
The 40-year-old described his accident as a routine early season crash – when a rider fell in front of him, Guesdon simply had no time to avoid him. “I didn’t have a scratch, my bike wasn’t scuffed, but my hip took the brunt of the blow,” he said. “But that’s the life of a rider.”
Although it will be a race against time to regain fitness before the Hell of the North, Guesdon is taking heart from his experiences in 2009, when he broke his collarbone at the Volta ao Algarve but returned in time for the cobbled classics. “That didn’t stop me from being competitive at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix a month later,” he pointed out. “You have to believe. And I had a good foundation before going to Australia.
“I’m going to take the time to heal and then stay focused on the objective – finish my career on April 8 on the Roubaix velodrome by giving the best of myself until then.”