Bakelants returns to racing after Il Lombardia horror crash

The Belgian broke seven ribs and four vertebrae in a serious crash last October.

PARIS (AFP) — Belgian cyclist Jan Bakelants is set to end his near six-month injury nightmare by lining up at the classic Loire Atlantique one-day race on Saturday, his Ag2r La Mondiale team announced.

Bakelants, a former Tour de France stage winner who wore the yellow jersey in 2013, suffered multiple fractures in a heavy crash at last year’s Il Lombardia.

After fighting his way back to fitness thanks to hours of grueling sessions on his home bike trainer, he is now taking inspiration from Alejandro Valverde and Ion Izagirre, both of whom returned to top form following serious injuries of their own.

“I don’t know what to expect,” said Bakelants, who will line up Saturday to end a 168-day injury absence.

“It was a difficult time for me, but thankfully I had a lot of support. I hope to succeed on my return. Valverde won again after serious injury and Ion Izagirre had a great Paris-Nice campaign despite suffering a fracture in his back on the Tour de France last year.

“So, I’m feeling confident.”