John Degenkolb could forfeit his classics defense after the Spanish doctor who operated on him said he could be sidelined for three months.
Degenkolb was a victim of a horrendous head-on crash last week while he was training with his Giant-Alpecin teammates in Spain. After surgery, Dr. Pedro Cavadas said it could be up to three months before the German star could return to competition.
If true, that would put his title defenses at both Milano-Sanremo (March 19) and Paris-Roubaix (April 10) in danger.
Team officials, however, said no timeline has been set for Degenkolb, and they’re not discounting a possible return in time for the spring classics.
“We don’t know how long the recovery is going to take,” a team official said. “We don’t know what the consequences from the sports perspective are at this point. Our team doctor is leading.”
Degenkolb’s most serious injury is to his left index finger, which was nearly severed in the crash. Team physician Anko Boelens said Degenkolb will undergo a future surgery in Germany on the finger. Beolens did not give a timetable for that operation. The speed at which the finger recovers, Boelens said, will determine when Degenkolb is ready.
“As a professional athlete, [Degenkolb] needs the functionality back in his finger, and the recovery time for that is extremely difficult to predict,” Boelens said in a release.
Just days before the crash, Degenkolb told VeloNews he was optimistic about his possibilities in this year’s spring classics, saying he felt like he reached a new level in 2015, when he won both Sanremo and Roubaix.
Following the crash, Degenkolb was treated by doctors in Valencia, where they operated on a finger, a fractured forearm, and cuts to his leg. He could be released in the coming days. Of the other teammates injured by the impact, only American Chad Haga remains in the hospital.
Haga posted good news on Twitter Wednesday, saying additional surgery would not be necessary.
Recovery has been great already, but now it looks like my surgery may be canceled, that everything will heal naturally! A serious blessing!
— Chad Haga (@ChadHaga) January 27, 2016
Officials said a 73-year-old British woman, who lives part of the year along Spain’s Costa Blanca, will be charged with reckless driving after turning onto the roadway in the wrong direction while driving in a British-designed car with right-hand drive.
Without Degenkolb, Giant-Alpecin’s classics squad will have to hit the reset button. The German is the only confirmed performer, especially in the northern classics, and without him, the team will take an outsider’s role in the major races.
Here is a Giant-Alpecin team update on all the riders involved in the crash:
Warren Barguil (FRA), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE) and Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) are currently home. Team physician Anko Boelens (NED) explained: “Warren will undergo surgery on Thursday for his scaphoid fracture. This won’t change our earlier estimation of six weeks of recovery needed. Fredrik has already tried his first minutes on the home trainer and is showing good signs of recovery.”
The team reported on Monday that further exams that day showed that Sinkeldam also has a fractured scapula. Surgery will not be required, but recovery will take longer than initially expected.
John Degenkolb (GER) returned to Germany today for further treatment and recovery in the hospital. Boelens said: “John’s left index finger was damaged in the accident and he will have additional surgery in Germany. As a professional athlete, he needs the functionality back in his finger, and the recovery time for that is extremely difficult to predict.”
Further examinations have shown that Chad Haga (USA) will not need surgery on his orbital fracture. “Now the swelling has decreased and surgery won’t be necessary. Chad will be able to leave the hospital and travel home to Gerona, Spain, in the next few days.”
Max Walscheid (GER) had successful surgeries on both his tibia and thumb in Germany. He will need to stay in the hospital for a few more days, and his recovery will take some months.