Horrillo back in training

Given his spectacular 60 metre plummet into a ravine during this year’s Giro d’Italia, few expected to see Pedro Horrillo ever throw his leg across a bike again. However the Spanish rider has made a much quicker recovery than doctors anticipated and is now doing training rides of up to 100 kilometres in length. He is still to decide whether a return to the professional peloton is possible; a decision that will be made at the end of December, after which – if he opts to continue – he will return with his Rabobank team.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” he told Biciciclismo. “Ten days ago I had surgery on my knee to remove two pieces of metal, eight inches on each side of the patella and held together with wire. In principle, they were going to remove that after a year, but my rehabilitation has gone pretty fast and it was bothering me...limiting my rehabilitation.”

A past stage winner in races such as the Euskal Bizikleta, Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya, Horrillo moved to Rabobank prior to the start of the 2005 season and has been racing there ever since. His near-fatal crash occurred on stage eight of this year’s Giro, when he flipped over a guardrail during the descent of the Culmine di San Pietro.

Fortunately, his bike remained on the road and those on the race quickly realised that he had gone over the edge. Had his bike also fallen into the ravine, it could have taken days to find him. He suffered fractures to his upper leg, knee and vertebrae, and several broken ribs punctured his lungs.

Many wondered if he would be able to return to cycling, but he’s managed to do so, less than six months after the crash. “I’ve trained up to 100 kilometres, but usually I do 60-70,” he said. “That’s mostly because of a lack of time after leaving rehabilitation, and because I did these as extra work [in addition to the rehabilitation exercises]

“I’m feeling generally well, although it could be better. The rides are done at a slow rhythm, that of a cyclo-tourist, rather than a professional. I’m enjoying it. In addition, I’ve got to take my lack of fitness and the discomfort in my femur into account.”

Horrillo plans to continue to work in the gym and with a physiotherapist. The bike remains on his mind and so he will also log kilometres in the saddle. Attendance at the ACP [Spanish Professional Cyclists’ Assocation] criterium last weekend helped to whet his appetite a little, even if it was far too soon to think about pinning on a number once more.

“I would have liked to have participated, but I can’t as I’m not fit and this week they have to evaluate me after removing the staples [in his leg]. It’s the third time the same scar has been opened and it’s harder to regenerate the skin tissue.”

Rabobank has been supportive of Horrillo since the crash and he recently had his photographs taken as part of the team line-up for next year. He played down the significance of this, saying that he wanted to have a visual record in case he doesn’t return to the peloton. But regardless of that caution, getting back to the professional ranks is nevertheless a possibility.

That decision will be taken in several week’s time. “I don’t want to obsess about it [returning as a pro],” he explained. “I do not want to make a decision now and be wrong. I have given it until the end of the year and will make a decision in December. The team are waiting, but it’s too soon for me to know.”

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