Petr Vakoc (Quick-Step Floors) has ridden his bike for the first time since breaking his spine in a training crash in South Africa at the end of January. The 25-year-old was training with teammates Bob Jungels and Laurens De Plus, when they were hit by a passing truck, injuring Vakoc and De Plus.
Vakoc, who returned to his home in Prague earlier this month, is not yet allowed to ride his bike sitting up because of his injuries. However, he has had a rudimentary training area set-up in his house, which allows him to ride lying down.
It has involved hanging his bike from the ceiling and attaching it to a home trainer, and lying down on two dining room chairs. It looks a little bizarre, but it has given Vakoc a chance to pedal his bike for the first time since the accident. After more than a month in hospital, between South Africa and Prague, Vakoc is happy to be out.
"I can't tell you how great it is to be back home after such a long time in the hospital, first in South Africa and most recently in Prague, at the Motol University Hospital. Of course, it is tough being sidelined with a view to a long rehabilitation period when all you want is to ride your bike, but I am feeling lucky knowing I will come back again," Vakoc said in a team press release.
"It will take some months before I return to competition, but I am really motivated and it is a great comfort knowing I am in good hands with the team and my family. I have just pedalled for the first time at my home, after hanging a bike from my ceiling and mounting it to a Tacx trainer. I am still not allowed to pedal seated but I am so happy I can start moving the legs and work to get back to the pack."
While he's keen to get back on the bike properly, particularly given the strong start to the season by his teammates, the medical staff is looking to build him back up to full strength gradually. There is still a long way to go in Vakoc’s recovery, but the team is happy with his progression up to this point. It's not yet clear how long he will have to sit out of racing, but there is hope that he could be back in the peloton by the end of this season.
"Since the accident, I have followed the races of my teammates and enjoyed their victories, so now I am even more eager and motivated to be back and do some great cycling races, thus giving you all a show as thanks for all the support and recovery messages I have received since the accident, which have meant a lot to me."
De Plus broke his pelvis in the South Africa crash and also still out of action, but it is hoped that he will be able to return to racing sooner rather than later.
We have some very good news coming from Prague! @PetrVakoc is out of the hospital and at home, where he is following his post-injury rehabilitation program:https://t.co/Hyx7pOXghr
Join us in wishing Petr a fast and full recovery! pic.twitter.com/xpyqE7mArO