Stig Broeckx, the Lotto Soudal rider who fell into a coma after suffering a severe head injury in a crash during last May's Baloise Belgium Tour, has made such progress since emerging from what doctors called a 'vegetative state' that he can pedal a stationary bike and hopes to return home from the rehab facility for good.
He turned 27 on Wednesday.
Broeckx was taken out almost one year ago, on May 28, 2016, when two motorbikes following the race ran out of room on the side of the road and careened into the peloton. Doctors confirmed he had bleeding on his brain and a fractured skull, and was in a non-induced coma.
However, by September, he was showing some signs of recovery, and was moved to the rehabilitation facility. Last October, he gave a 'thumbs up' sign, and by December he began to speak and swallow independently.
According to his fan page, Broeckx' father held an information session in which he said Broeckx wanted to thank Cofidis rider Loïc Chetout, who stayed with him immediately after the crash and held his head stable.
He has also progressed to the point where he can exercise on a stationary bike, and "even dares to cheat and reset the 30 minute timer at the end of the session so he can ride longer".
Any talk of returning to racing, like his teammate Kris Boeckmans, who also suffered a terrible head trauma and was in an induced coma after a crash in the 2015 Vuelta a España, did, is premature. His family first hopes he can live independently.
His team has been riding under the motto 'Fight for Stig' since the crash.