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Jakobsen out of coma but facing 'long and arduous' recovery

Dutch road race champion Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) on stage 6 of the 2019 Vuelta a España
Dutch road race champion Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Deceuninck-Quickstep's Fabio Jakobsen is out of his medically-induced coma, two days after suffering a violent crash on stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne in Katowice but the extent of his injuries are such that his recovery process is expected to be 'long and arduous', according to the team.

Jakobsen was placed in the coma to help facilitate recovery from extensive injuries to his face and throat but after undergoing five hours of surgery early Thursday and after further examinations, doctors were able to rule out major neurological problems.

The team say Jakobsen is able to move his arms and legs and communicate with doctors but that speaking and eating will remain a challenge after the maxillofacial surgery.

"The most important thing is that he is alive," team manager Patrick Lefevere told HLN. "Priority number two is to restore his face. Fortunately, no vital organs have been hit, but all the bones in his face are broken and he has lost all his teeth. It's really, really bad."

Numerous figures in the cycling world have reached out to the team to express their best wishes for Jakobsen's recovery, including Lance Armstrong, who wrote on Twitter, "Thoughts and prayers go out to Fabio Jakobsen. Hang in there buddy. Been around this game a long time and not sure I’ve seen a crash that horrific."

The team expressed their appreciation for all the messages, writing, "Deceuninck – Quick-Step would like to thank everyone for their support and best wishes sent in these difficult and trying days and at the same time kindly ask you to respect the privacy of Fabio and his family."

The incidents leading up to the crash were fairly common: Dylan Groenewegen, sensing that Jakobsen was coming up fast along the barriers, appeared to deviate from his line to close the door on him. What was uncommon was the failure of the barricades, which gave way and flew into the course, taking down half a dozen other riders.

Groenewegen himself crashed after the finish line, suffering a fractured collarbone. He apologized after the incident on Thursday, saying "I hate what happened yesterday, I can't find the words to describe how sorry I am for Fabio and others who have been crashed or hit. At the moment, the health of Fabio is the most important thing. I think about him constantly."

His Jumbo-Visma team have placed him on inactive status until the UCI Disciplinary Commission decides whether his actions warrant further punishment beyond his disqualification and 500CHF fine.

Deceuninck-Quickstep manager Patrick Lefevere stood behind his immediate reaction that Groenewegen should face criminal charges, and the Polish authorities are investigating the incident.

However, others have called upon the UCI to do more to ensure that barriers and courses are designed in a safer way.