Italy's Rinaldo Nocentini will be back in action at the Tour de Suisse and hoping to secure a place in the AG2R-La Mondiale Tour de France team after making a rapid recovery from a double fracture sustained in February at the GP Insubria.
Nocentini wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France for eight days last year and is determined to go back to the race this year despite his terrible crash earlier this year.
The Tuscan rider fractured both his tibia and fibula and specialists fitted two plates and 35 screws to put his bones back together. He thought he might not race again but was back on the bike two months after the crash and hopes he is fit enough to be back at the Tour de France in three weeks time.
"The first thing I thought, just two or three hours after the accident, is that I wouldn't ride again," Nocentini admitted to Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday.
"I'd seen my leg in pieces, with my foot turned around and I'd never felt so much pain like that. It was the first serious accident of my career and my first serious fracture. But I accepted what happened and accepted the medical verdict. I knew I wouldn't have given up, riders don't give up like that."
Nocentini spend several weeks at a special rehabilitation centre, working nine hours a day, before riding on the rollers and then on the road.
"I worked for nine hours a day, five days a week, at a special centre near Pisa. I worked in the pool, in the gym and with an electro-stimulator."
"I rode for the first time two months after the accident and it was the best moment of all. Riding the rollers is one thing but the things you feel on the road, the air and the feelings of pedaling with your own legs is special It was resurrection for me."
Nocentini knows he will struggle at the Tour de Suisse but hopes to be fit enough to earn a place in the AG2R-La Mondiale team for the Tour de France.
"I hope so. I've already done a week-long training camp with the team in the Alps. We rode the Tour stage over the Madeleine, doing 4000m of climbing. I was suffering at the end but I made it," he said.
"In a final test on the six-km Faeto climb near my home I did the same time as I was doing before the crash. I hope to do the Tour because last year my eight days in yellow made me really happy and made me feel like an ambassador for Italian cycling. I feel like I owe something to the Tour."
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