Jürgen Roelandts has left hospital and will fly home with his Lotto-Belisol teammates this coming Monday. The Belgian was eager to get back on his bike as soon as possible after recovering from crash injuries suffered earlier this week, possibly as soon as Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
Roelandts was the most seriously injured in a crash involving multiple riders in the finale of the Tour Down Under's first stage, suffering a fractured cervical vertebra.
He doesn't remember the details of the crash. “Don't ask me how it happened,” he told the Nieuwsblad. “There was so much dust I couldn't see where or what I was riding. My helmet was broken.”
Doctors at the hospital in Adelaide gave him a neck collar to wear for six weeks, forbidding him from riding during that time. “I'll see what the doctors say in Belgium, but I hope to ride Tirreno (March 7-13). That way I will have a spring race.”
He told the Belgian newspaper that he hopes to back on his bike training as soon as the jet lag from his flight back home wears off.
Even when he was first injured, Roelandts found a way to communicate with the world - posting a photo of himself in the hospital emergency room on his Twitter account. “You should know: I had just been given morphine for pain and felt a bit euphoric. That makes you a little weird,” he wrote.
His teammates have done all they can to help Roelandts. Andre Greipel dedicated his stage three win to him, and tweeting a photo of him at the team dinner table Thursday.
“We visited him the night of the accident and he was a bit worse for the wear then,” Lotto-Belisol's Adam Hansen told Cyclingnews. “We put a whole load of movies on his tablet so he didn't get bored. We've been trying to visit whenever possible.”
Greipel won Thursday's stage to take back the leader's jersey, but things could have gone better, Hansen said. “Roelandts is a key part of the train. He’s not here, and that’s why we didn’t have a perfect lead-out today.”