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Mathieu Sprick (Argos-Shimano)
"I know what I want, but I don't know what the reality will be"
Matthieu Sprick retains hope of making a comeback to cycling as he continues his recovery from the stroke he suffered six months ago. The Argos-Shimano rider collapsed at home in Le Beausset on May 22 and spent the following two and a half months in hospital.
The stroke affected the right hand side of Sprick’s body and the 32-year-old estimates that he is still lacking “30 to 40%” of the former strength in his right arm. However, the Frenchman, who has another year to run on his contract with Argos-Shimano, is pleased with his progress to date.
“In six months, I hope to be on a bike. The idea is to become a rider again,” Sprick told L’Équipe. “The doctors aren’t saying yes or no. Nobody has said no. I know what I want, but I don’t know what the reality will be.”
Now living again in his native Alsace, Sprick was back in the saddle in early November, when he made a point of climbing the nearby Mont Sainte-Odile. “It goes on for about seven or eight kilometres. I wanted to do it without putting my foot on the ground – and I succeeded,” said Sprick. “It was both good and not good that I did that climb, because I suffered so much that day, but I needed to do it.”
A strong rouleur, Sprick has played an important role in Argos-Shimano’s well-drilled sprint train since joining from Bouygues Telecom ahead of the 2011 season. As he continued his rehabilitation in July, he took heart from teammate Marcel Kittel’s success at the Tour de France.
“I told myself that I wouldn’t watch the Tour, and yet, after my five hours of therapy each day, I switched on the television,” Sprick said. “Kittel’s four stage wins encouraged me to keep working and to get out of the wheelchair. But I never said to myself: ‘I should be at the Tour.’ It wasn’t my place. I had another battle to fight.”
Sprick began walking again on July 28, one week after the end of the Tour, and he has continued on the steady road to recovery ever since. “In hospital, I saw a lot of people who weren’t as well as me. I’m lucky,” Sprick said.