Belgian rider Jan Bakelants (Ag2r-La Mondiale) will undergo emergency surgery Friday to stabilize a fracture in his lower back, officials confirmed.
The Ag2r-La Mondiale rider was seriously injured October 7 in a crash at Il Lombardia, and was placed in intensive care in Italy. His injuries include seven rib fractures and four fractured vertebra in his middle and lower back. Officials said the surgery will focus on stabilizing the L3 vertebra. [related title=”More on Jan Bakelants” align=”right” tag=”Jan-Bakelants”]
Officials said doctors were unable to immediately transfer Bakelants to Belgium due to internal bleeding. His condition has since improved, and he will be transported to Gasthuisberg Hospital in Leuven, Belgium, on Thursday.
Officials characterized the surgery as a next step “before beginning a long rehabilitation,” and asked fans and media to respect the family’s privacy “to allow Jan to return to the level of health that will allow him to resume his career.”
Bakelants, 31, crashed heavily on a descent off the decisive Colma de Sormano with about 40km to go in the season’s final monument. Several riders crashed on a sweeping right-hander, including Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors), Simone Petilli (UAE-Emirates), and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie).
TV images captured De Plus tumbling over a guardrail and disappearing into the abyss.
Bakelants also crashed heavily into the ravine. Photographer Kristof Ramon captured the image of Bakelants’ bike hanging from a tree, some 15 feet above where the Belgian rider had fallen.
“Most horrific crash I ever witnessed,” Ramon wrote on his Twitter account. “The site of the crash was surreal.”
Petilli also suffered heavy injuries, including two fractured vertebra, a concussion, cuts near his right eye, and a broken collarbone.