Niki Terpstra left the hospital on Monday after suffering a severe concussion during a crash at the Tour of Flanders. The Dutch rider posted a photo of the Terminator, saying ‘I’ll be back’, but his Direct Energie team quickly confirmed he would not ride Paris-Roubaix and likely needs significant time to recover from the concussion's effects.
"I’m suffering from a heavy concussion after yesterday’s crash," Terpstra tweeted late on Monday. "I’ve spent the night in the hospital under 24h observation and now I’m back home. The best place for me to recover and have complete (bed) rest for the upcoming period. #offline."
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that Terpstra's wife, Ramona, who had seen the crash on live television, took him home to the Netherlands.
"I panicked terribly, tears ran down my cheeks and I was shaking in my legs," she is reported as saying. "Those minutes that Niki didn't move were really hell."
Terpstra was apparently unconscious for a total of 10 minutes after he crashed, and it was initially feared he’d suffered more serious injuries, but race medics were quickly on the scene to treat him and then get him to hospital.
"Although things shouldn’t be underestimated, I’m told that everything is not so bad, but that is not the case." Ramona said. "Nik has had a hard blow to his head and has been 'out' for several minutes. Of course I realize that it could have been much worse, but this is also very intense.
"He doesn't know anything anymore about the fall, only that there was a traffic jam just before. He apparently asked several times to continue in the race. It's bizarre that that's the first thing he said, but it was never an option."
Terpstra rang his wife as she travelled to the Oudenaarde hospital, and the Direct Energie team also kept her informed. Terpstra’s former team, Deceuninck-QuickStep, invited her to stay with them on Sunday night.
“It is often said that the cycling world is rock hard, but this was very special. I was received so much support there, it felt like I was returning to my family. I cried quite a lot there," Ramona said.
There were reports in France and in the Netherlands that Terpstra could return to racing as early as the Tro-Bro Léon race on April 22, but the Direct Energie team quickly denied this, saying the priority is to make a full recovery.
"On the one hand, that is disappointing for Niki, but it is nice that he does not have a competition that he can focus on either,” Ramona said. “I know that he wants to jump on his bike as soon as possible, but he needs to be braked. The most important thing is that Nik now mainly takes his rest."