FDJ stand by Bonnet after Tour de France crash

Though he may not be able to race from the start of the season, William Bonnet will remain an FDJ rider in 2016 after being offered a contract extension by the French team. 

The Frenchman was involved in a huge crash during stage three of this year's Tour de France and left the race in an ambulance sporting a neck brace. The crash happened at speed and was caught on television. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was also involved. He fractured a vertebrae while wearing the race leader's yellow jersey. He got up to finish the stage but was forced to quit the race. Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) also finished the stage but was confirmed to have broken his collarbone. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) broke his shoulder and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) his wrist.   

The aftermath of the crash was captured on a Velon video camera fitted to Orica-GreenEdge mechanic Fausto Oppici. The video has been seen 1.8 million times.

Bonnet was initially though to have suffered minor head and neck injuries but medical examinations uncovered a multi-fragmented fracture of his second cervical vertebrae - the so-called 'hangman's fracture' - and he was rushed to Paris for surgery. 

After leaving hospital Bonnet was confined to a neck brace but his rehabilitation has been going well so far and he currently only needs to wear the brace occasionally at night. He hasn't ridden a bike on the open road since his crash and it is clear that it is going to take time to incorporate himself back into the flow of professional competition. 

"We're waiting for the cervical vertebrae to strengthen before returning to the road. It's the surgeon who tells me the schedule. I've been able to go on the home trainer since I left hospital. I've always done that. But returning to the road - that's another matter," Bonnet said in a recent interview with French website Velo101.

"We will see at the end of the year, but it is difficult to establish a programme. I have regular meetings with the surgeons to take stock and do check-ups. Long term, it's impossible to say. If all goes well, I will be able to get back to training on the road in December. For a return to competition, that's another matter entirely."

Bonnet, 33, has spent the last five seasons with FDJ and has always ridden for French teams, having started his career with Crédit Agricole in 2006 before spending two seasons with Bbox-Bouygues Telecom. His biggest win came when he won a stage at Paris-Nice in 2010 but he has largely played domestique duties and has ridden seven Tours de France.

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