Jürgen Roelandts has finished his season as he began it: in hospital with a fractured bone. The Lotto Belisol ride broke a cervical vertebra in his first race of the season, the Tour Down Under, and has now fractured collarbone at the Binche-Tournai-Binche. He now faces three weeks off the bike before a well-deserved vacation.
Only two days after taking the overall title in Franco-Belge, Roelandts crashed in Binche-Tournai-Binche. “It was a Cancellara break,” said team doctor Jan Mathieu, as the right collarbone was broken in three places. “What a waste, that he again had such a stupid crash, but if it had to happen, better now than in the spring.”
The Tour Down Under crash kept him out of racing for over four months, as complications occurred. A thrombosis which put him back in hospital “taught me perspective. I twice went through the eye of the needle,” Roelandts told Het Nieuwsblad.
After a series of promising results after returning to racing, including winning a stage at the Tour of Luxembourg, the 27-year-old went on to win the first stage of Franco-Belge and held on to take the overall title. That made him a favourite to win the next race, but things went differently.
"He knew instantly that his collarbone was broken," said sports director Bart Leysen. "'I heard the crack' he told me. Jürgen is normally in all circumstances a very quiet boy, but he was furious because immediately an enthusiastic fan was trying to help him. He had himself under control again very quickly. “
Surgery was successful and Roelandts has returned home to recuperate. Leysen suggested that the rider be named “Unluckiest Belgian of the year”.