Alessandro Ballan has traveled from Spain to Italy but will spend a few more days in hospital in Castelfranco Veneto before finally returning home.
The BMC Racing Team rider crashed at speed on December 20, fracturing his left femur, a rib and suffering some abdominal trauma that led doctors to remove his spleen. He spent nine days in intensive care in Spain and a further 10 days in hospital in Spain.
He spent the holidays with just his wife but showed his morale was high despite his injuries with a series of tweeter messages. Classics rival Tom Boonen also visited Ballan in hospital as did several BMC teammates. On returning to Italy Ballan tweeted, "After 20 long and intense days, last night I got back in my Castelfranco V. This stage race is almost over and the victory is mine!"
"I want to thank everyone who has offered me their support since the crash," Ballan told Italian website Tuttobici after arriving in Italy.
"I'd never crashed hard like that before. I have to confess that I was scared. I immediately knew it was bad because I couldn't breathe. Fortunately I relaxed a little and started taking little breaths."
Ballan flew home to Italy in a private plane so he could remain in a lying position. He will spend a few more days in a local hospital to keep his injured lung under control.
"I'm still in the hospital in Castelfranco Veneto. I've got to stay under observation because I've got some fluid on my lung, and it needs to be kept under control," he explained.
"My recovery will take time because of my fractured hip. It'll be four or five weeks before I can put my foot down on the ground. Then I'll have to do a lot of physiotherapy. I'll only be able to carefully ride a stationary bike when I can bend my knee 110 degrees."
Ballan finished third in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in 2012 but will miss both races this year. He hopes to recover in time to race in the second half of the season.
"I'll watch the Classics, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France on television but I’ll have a lot of work to do as well," he said.
"I'm sure I'll make a full recovery. That's sure. But I'll have to be patient and I will be. I hope to race again this summer. And the goal is to ride the Vuelta [a Espana]."