Wout Van Aert's cyclo-cross season is looking more and more uncertain as he continues his recovery from a serious leg injury sustained in a crash during the time trial at the Tour de France in July. According to a report in Het Nieuwsbald, he still requires crutches to walk and an additional three weeks before he can consider training.
"I have to rest for another three weeks before I can really recover," Van Aert told Het Nieuwsbald.
Van Aert had a dream start to the Tour de France as part of the Jumbo-Visma team that won the stage 2 team time trial in Brussels before going on to win stage 10 victory in Albi.
He was a favourite to win the stage 13 time trial but crashed a kilometre from the finish line. He clipped the road-side fencing through a righthand corner, which caught his hip and pulled him off his time trial bike. He was taken to nearby hospital in Pau where he underwent surgery to repair the torn skin, capsule and muscle of his upper thigh and hip. Doctors recommended two months off to recover from his injuries.
He was transferred to a hospital near his home in Herentals where he underwent a second operation and spent the first part of his recover process. Doctor Toon Claes, who performed the surgery, said it would take two months before he could begin intensive rehabilitation.
Van Aert said he intended to compete in the cyclo-cross season but with the opening World Cup round held on September 14 in Iowa City, it was never certain that he would recover in time.
According to the report in Het Nieuwsblad, Van Aert said his recovery has fallen behind. "I have to rest for another three weeks before I can really recover. It is starting to improve, but only then will I feel like a real sportsman again."
The muscle injury in his leg was worse than previously thought but doctor Peter Verstappen from Jumbo-Visma and doctor Claes are keeping a close watch over the injury.
Jumbo-Visma have been patient and are giving Van Aert all the time he needs to make a full recovery.
"In a rehabilitation you have two phases: the medical rehabilitation and the sports rehabilitation," said Merijn Zeeman. "Only when the wound and the injury are completely healed can we proceed to the sportive rehabilitation and muscle building. We have to be patient."
His team aren't completely ruling out cyclo-cross but they are also realistic. They believe that given the severity of his injury, it wouldn't be hard for Van Aert to return to top shape until closer to the spring. "It will be a difficult job to get Wout back to his old level by the spring."