The Belgian broke his kneecap when he crashed dramatically on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet on stage 16 of the Tour, locking up on a left-hand bend and flying over a low wall into a ravine. Remarkably, he dragged himself back up and carried on, finishing the remaining 60 kilometres with blood running down his left leg and the knee swelling by the minute.
As he hobbled out of the medical truck at the finish, it was clear Gilbert's Tour was over, and further medical checks conducted in Belgium at the end of July confirmed the patella fracture, with the doctor prescribing a period of four weeks off the bike.
However, just under two weeks later, Gilbert posted an update on his social media accounts on Thursday, showing him riding his indoor training bike for the first time since the crash.
The speedy recovery has hastened his ambitions for what's left of the season, and he hopes to make his comeback on October 7 at Paris-Tours, scene of his first big Classics victory in 2008.
"I'm obviously disappointed to have left the Tour in that way, but nevertheless happy that it wasn't more serious," Gilbert said in a video message. "My dream would be to be at the start of Paris-Tours. This year it's 10 years since I won there for the first time. It was the first big race I'd won in my life.
"There's a fair bit of time left, but it's going to be complicated. The form starts to drop, so I'll have to work very hard to come back. I have a lot of support, be it on social media, from the team, my family. Everyone is supporting me, which is nice, and that gives you a morale boost."
Gilbert's crash and the aftermath feature in Cyclingnews' latest film, 'Running With Wolves', which goes behind the scenes with the Quick-Step Floors Team at the 2018 Tour de France. It is available to rent for $3.99 USD or buy for $6.99 USD.
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