Wout van Aert is happy to be home in Belgium and at long last out of hospital, following his crash at the Tour de France. He is especially happy to have had surgery by Belgian doctors, as the treatment he had in France "left a lot to be desired".
The 24-year-old crashed in the individual time trial on stage 13 of the Tour de France, suffering a deep gash on his thigh on impact with a roadside barrier.
Van Aert, who rides for Jumbo Visma, underwent treatment immediately in hospital in Pau, which apparently was not properly carried out.
"In the beginning I was not afraid," Van Aert told Belgian broadcaster Sporza, "but when Toon Claes [surgeon] said that I had not had the right surgery in France, I was scared."
On Thursday, he visited the 'To Walk Again' rehabilitation center in Herentals. Sitting in a wheelchair, he said: "It was not a dramatic crash, but due to the treatment that left a lot to be desired in France, it could have been worse if we had not been quick. I am glad that I fell into the hands of Toon Claes and that he quickly intervened at the right time."
The problems have now been resolved after the appropriate surgery, and Van Aert is confident of a full recovery.
“In time I will regain my full strength in my right leg and that is the most important thing," he said.
From here, he will undergo rehabilitation on the affected tendons and muscles. At the moment he can't take more than a few steps with crutches. Once he can walk again, can he start to think of cycling again.
"I will not cycle for a long time and I will have lost a lot. If I work hard for it, I will return to my normal level."
Van Aert's cyclo-cross arch-rival Mathieu van der Poel hopes Van Aert returns soon and the two can resume their rivalry this winter.
"Of course, you don't want anyone to crash. If he doesn't get into action during the the entire 'cross season, then that's a shame for me, too," Van der Poel said.
"I read the reports and it is apparently quite serious. If he had to draw a line though the entire 'cross season, I would find that very unfortunate."