By Andrew Hood
Officials remain cautiously optimistic Saul Raisin can experience a full recovery after the 23-year-old Georgia resident pulled out of a coma earlier this week.
Roger Legeay, sport director at Crédit Agricole, said Raisin has been able to move both his arms and legs and that doctors are expected to remove the breathing apparatus possibly as soon as Saturday.
“The critical part is past,” Legeay told VeloNews on Friday. “Now we are waiting to see how his recovery comes. We don’t know how fast the recovery will be, but we know it will be a long time.”
Raisin crashed April 4 in the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe, breaking his clavicle and a rib as well as landing hard on the front part of his face. Doctors said the hard-shell helmet saved his life, but less than 48 hours after the crash, Raisin suffered a brain hemorrhage and nearly died.
French doctors at a hospital in Angers, reputed as one of the best in western France for brain injuries, sent Raisin into a drug-induced coma to help alleviate pressure on his brain.
On April 6, Raisin underwent two successful emergency operations, including a major intrusion into his skull to help drain the dangerous buildup of blood on his brain.
Raisin pulled out of the coma this week and has been responsive to questions from family members and medical staff.
“What the doctors told me is that it wasn’t necessary to cut into his brain, so we’re hopeful that there will not be any permanent damage and that he will have a full recovery,” said Legeay, during a visit to the world track championships in Bordeaux. “So far, things are looking better. He has moved his arms and legs and his eyes are alert.”
Raisin’s improvement will likely prompt doctors to take him out of intensive care, Legeay said, adding that Raisin will likely stay in France to undergo rehabilitation.
Legeay repeated that no one knows what caused the crash, but said it was one of the worst he’s seen in his many years involved in cycling.
“I’ve never seen such a horrible crash in all my career,” he said. “We are hopeful he can have a full recovery and lead a normal life. In times like these, sport seems unimportant.”
Broken hand won’t stop Olson
Riding the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix is never easy, but it’s even harder with a broken hand.
Aaron Olson (Saunier Duval) didn’t finish his first start in the Hell of the North last weekend, but for good reason. X-rays taken Monday upon his return to Spain revealed a fracture in his left hand suffered during the Tour de Flanders on April 2.
“I have a fracture in my left hand and more painful is the torn ligaments,” Olson told VeloNews in an e-mail. “The good news is that the training has good well, and, unlike during the week of the classics, I am gaining strength in my left hand each day and it is healing well.”
Olson lined up for the start of Roubaix despite a brace wrapped around his left hand. He said he got slammed up against some race barriers at Flanders and his hand was trapped between the handlebars for several yards.
Despite the injury, Olson is scheduled to fly to Georgia on Saturday to start next week’s Tour de Georgia where he hopes “to have a good ride.”