Five-hour facial surgery for Boeckmans after Vuelta crash

Kris Boeckmans was injured in a high-speed crash during stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana, and his recovery will be a long process.

Lotto-Soudal’s Kris Boeckmans underwent major facial reconstruction surgery Thursday night as the Belgian rider continues to make a slow recovery from his horrific crash in the Vuelta a España.

In a five-hour surgery, a medical team at the ZOL hospital in Gent, Belgium attached 50 screws and eight plates in Boeckmans’ face.

“Kris had a nose fracture, fractures of the eye socket, fractures of the upper jawbones and some internal fractures,” a team release stated. “The jawbones were blocked to improve the recovery during the upcoming two weeks. The first 24 hours Kris will remain at the intensive care unit. On Monday there will be an evaluation and the doctors will then discuss when he might go home.”

The surgery was the latest procedure in Boeckmans’ long recovery, and reveals just how bad his crash was during stage 8 at the Vuelta.

The 28-year-old crashed heavily in the same high-speed accident that took out Daniel Martin of Cannondale-Garmin, Nacer Bouhanni of Cofidis, and BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen. A teammate said Boeckmans hit a pothole as he was taking a drink, provoking a crash involving dozens of riders as the peloton roared onto city roads to approach the first of two passages over the Cresta de Gallo climb. Boeckmans took the brunt of the fall on his face and chest, leaving him lying motionless on the roadway.

Fearing the worst, doctors were able to transport Boeckmans to a local hospital. He was kept in a medically-induced coma for two weeks as doctors treated severe facial trauma, a concussion, three broken ribs, and bleeding in his lung.

The crash came as Boeckmans was enjoying a career revival, winning eight races in the first half of 2015 before starting the Vuelta.