By Shane Stokes
American rider Saul Raisin has taken an important step forward, completing some three hour training sessions while home in Dalton, Georgia. For now the Credit Agricole rider is using the home trainer, but he hopes to be back on the road soon.
"I think it will be a month or two, then I will be out road," he told Cyclingnews over the weekend. "Things are going very well thus far. I'm getting stronger every day, riding the trainer a lot. I am doing three hour rides and also getting in other exercise, such as swimming. I'm becoming stronger and getting well."
Raisin crashed hard during the opening stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe in France on April 4th, hitting his head when he fell. He was initially stable but then suffered a brain haemorrhage over a day later and almost died. Doctors operated in order to try to save his life and, after six days in a coma, he finally came around. However brain trauma meant that he was very weak and also lacked strength on the left hand side of his body. That muscular balance is returning, though.
"My left side was weaker because of my brain injury, but as my brain heals it should get better," he states. "My left side is almost back to where it should be; my arm is still weaker, I am doing a lot of exercises trying to build it back up. But other than that, my legs are almost back to normal. There has definitely been an improvement."
Raisin has had an emotional time of late, both in terms of leaving the rehab centre to return home and also in following the Tour de France on the television. "It was great to get home," he says. "There were a load of welcome home banners for me. In addition to that, I was really emotional when I was watching the Tour and I saw Thor [Husovd], Axel Merckx and all my teammates wearing my bracelets. That was very emotional for me, it is like my spirit is at the Tour. I would really like to be there now, but it really made me feel good to see those guys wearing them on the race."
Although Raisin's doctors have said that it is not guaranteed that he will be able to return to the pro peloton, his rapid recovery gives him much hope that this will be the case. For now it seems that Credit Agricole are keeping a place for him.
"I am getting great support from them," he stated. "The team likes me a lot, and like I said, the whole team are wearing the bracelets. As of now, I am going back in October to be in the team pictures for next season. So far things are good, so we will see how it works out."
A full Saul Raisin interview will follow soon on Cyclingnews.
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