Vakoc could return to racing in 2019

Quick-Step rider broke back in accident in January

Czech rider Petr Vakoč could make his return from injury to race with Quick-Step Floors in 2019, according to team boss Patrick Lefevere's comments in French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

Vakoč was involved in an accident with a truck while training in the province of Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, in January this year with Quick-Step teammates Bob Jungels and Laurens De Plus.

While Jungels escaped injury, De Plus suffered a broken pelvis and sacrum – the latter connecting the base of the spine to the pelvis – and Vakoč broke several vertebrae, requiring a two-week stay in hospital in South Africa before the 26-year-old could return to his home in Prague.

De Plus was able to return to competition at the Eschborn-Frankfurt one-day race at the start of May, before heading to the Tour of California. The Belgian was also part of the Quick-Step team that won the team time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, in September. For 2019, De Plus has joined LottoNL-Jumbo, who will ride as Team Jumbo next season.

Vakoč, however, hasn't been able to race in 2018, but was already pedalling his bike in March – albeit from a supine position, with his bike suspended from the ceiling – and was able to ride outside on the road by the end of June.

Following various medical tests this year, the latest round of examinations have apparently revealed that Vakoč may be able to make a return to racing next season.

"We didn't know whether Vakoč would still be a rider next year," Lefevere said in L'Equipe on Tuesday. "But we've now heard that he will be."

Vakoč joined what was then Omega Pharma-QuickStep from Czech Continental team Etixx-iHNed in 2014, and was quickly up to speed at WorldTour level. He won a stage of the Tour de Pologne that year, and then the following season won the Czech road race championships and took a stage win at the Tour of Britain.

In 2016, Vakoč won the Brabantse Pijl one-day race, which remains his last pro victory, although he took second place in the same event behind Bahrain-Merida's Sonny Colbrelli in 2017.

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