Former cyclo-cross world champion Bart Wellens finally has the answer to lingering back pain which has hampered his ability to perform to his previous level. The 35-year-old was diagnosed today with a herniated disc in his lower back.
Wellens will take a ten-day long break from competition, missing Friday's Koppenbergcross as well as Sunday's Superprestige round in Zonhoven. He hopes to be able to return for the next round in Hamme-Zogge on November 10.
An MRI and bone scan revealed the herniated disc in the L4-L5 vertebrae which has put pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord, causing pain and weakness in the legs, likely stemming from a 2006 injury.
"I am glad that I finally know what's going on," Wellens said according to cyclo-cross.info. "I could say I was in pain, I could say that I totally felt no strength in the legs, but many began to see it as something mental. I have now confirmed to myself that it was not and that there was indeed a serious problem. The positive is that it can be solved."
Wellens may be able to pedal on his rollers without resistance or on the road if there is no wind, but only rest and patience will allow the treatments to work. "I will take complete rest until Friday. Eventually I can return to training, but we'll see that day by day. If all goes to plan I expect to be back in the pack in Hamme-Zogge, but we'll see."