Bakelants to be transferred to hospital in Belgium for surgery

Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale) will be transferred from hospital in Como to his native Belgium on Thursday to undergo surgery to stabilise the four broken vertebrae in his spine on Friday.

Bakelants broke two dorsal (D8 and D10) and two lumbar (L1 and L3) vertebrae as well as seven ribs in a heavy crash at last Saturday's Il Lombardia.

Bakelants was immediately taken to Sant'Anna hospital in Como and has remained there since. The medical staff have been looking to move him to Belgium for further treatment, but a hemothorax (an accumulation of blood in the chest cavity) has prevented them from doing so.

"The fractures in the L3 are unstable and Jan will have to undergo an urgent operation in Belgium", his management said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. "Due to a hemothorax, it was not possible to transfer Jan to Belgium in recent days. Now his state has stabilized, Jan will be transferred to the UZ Gasthuisberg in Leuven this afternoon (Thursday).

"Yesterday a medical team has already arrived that will assist him during this repatriation. If everything goes well, he will be operated at Leuven on Friday, October 13, by a specialized doctor."

Bakelants crashed on a corner during the descent of the Sormano last Saturday, along with two other riders. Quick-Step Floors rider Laurens De Plus also came off on the corner prior to that as he chased down Bakelants' teammate Mikael Cherel at the front of the race. Bakelants was one of the worst affected along with UAE Team Emirates' Simone Petilli, who remains in hospital as he continues his recovery.

"Jan and his family are very impressed with what has happened, but everyone is very relieved that he is to be repatriated to Belgium and operated on there. After that, Jan's rehabilitation will take a long time," his management said.

"Jan and his family thank everyone for giving them the necessary rest in this difficult period, in which his further recovery is a priority. Once the repatriation and operation are back, a further update can be given."

It is not clear how long Bakelants will have to sit out of racing and while it is now the off season, his recovery could result in a delayed start to the 2018 season.

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