Britain's Jonny Bellis completed his first race this weekend since a life-threatening accident.
Bellis was competing in the Isle of Man road championships, a week before his scheduled return at the British National Road Race Championships on June 27. Although he finished in last place, the Briton was just happy to make a return to racing.
"I didn't really know what to expect," Bellis told Cyclingnews. "Whether I was last or whatever, the plan was to just finish the race and do a bit after just for training. I managed to do that so I was pretty happy."
Last September, Bellis crashed his scooter in Italy and suffered serious head injuries. The Saxo Bank rider was kept in an induced coma for several weeks before slowly making a recovery. He has undergone intense physiotherapy but has made a remarkable recovery.
"It felt pretty good to be back," Bellis said. "It was a really a dress rehearsal before the national championships that are next week. But even just packing my bag the night before the race was a nice feeling. I've not done that for a while."
Bellis rode the race at his own pace, dropping off on the first serious climb and picking up riders as he went along. He helped to form a group behind the leaders and although all his companions pulled out before the finish, Bellis continued along.
"I rode up at my own pace. I was one of the first to back off. But I'm happy considering I was almost dead less than a year ago."
Bellis left hospital just over three months ago but said that it's only been in the last six weeks that he's had the mindset and capability to think and act like a professional cyclist again. The rider has had to face an enormous uphill struggle, made harder my a stomach problem that affected him while he was in hospital.
"When I came out of hospital I had a week on the turbo and then two weeks on my own. Then I started going out with the group but it wasn't until about six weeks ago that I started fully concentrating on the bike.
"Once I had that final check-up from the doctor, life as a professional bike rider started. I went to Italy for a week and then went to Brad McGee's for a couple of weeks, too, where I did some good training blocks."
After the nationals Bellis will briefly return home to the Isle of Man. He will then race the Edinburgh Nocturne, a stage race in Madrid, followed by an altitude camp with the team.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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