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Valgren crashed hard on a descent during the Route d’Occitanie, a race he was riding in preparation for the Tour de France. The incident catapulted him over a guardrail and down a big drop, leaving him with a fractured pelvis, ruptured ligaments in his knee, as well as the meniscus in his knee.
Since then, the Dane has been working on his rehab, but it is a long road to recovery for Valgren and he doesn’t know where it will end. Valgren still has another year on his contract with EF Education-EasyPost squad, but he will drop down to the development squad to take the pressure off his recovery time.
“I’ll be honest. When I’m going to be at full strength is hard to say,” Valgren said in an update on the EF website. “But I am in really good hands and I am working hard every day, so sooner or later I will be back.
“I love my job, and I will do anything I can to get back to it. I really don’t want to end my career with an injury. I always want to say I will stop when I don’t want to do this anymore, and I am absolutely not ready to stop. I love my life. Not being on the bike, not being a bike rider, is something that I just can’t think about at the moment.”
Due to the seriousness of his injuries, Valgren was not allowed on his bike for several months. Instead, he would spend time at home doing exercises to strengthen his joints in between multi-hour sessions with the physio.
He had to wait for his pelvis to heal before he could do serious weight-bearing exercises and pushing himself on the bike, even a home trainer, was a no-go for some time.
“I went from training 25-30 hours per week to not doing a single thing cardiovascular-wise for months. It was hard, because you get a lot of energy from doing exercise,” Valgren said. “I was still doing exercises, but those exercises at the physio are more just about pushing through pain. It’s not a nice feeling. I am trying to get through it in the best possible way, but it is not like I get a big kick out of it. I really miss getting a good sweat on and getting my heart rate up.”
Valgren is now allowed to ride his bike, but he’s only allowed some short sessions so that he doesn’t overload himself. He does 45 minutes per day on a home trainer, split up into 15-minute sessions.
Meanwhile, a recent treatment has given him a much larger range of motion in his knee, and he has since been able to complete a full pedal rotation.
“It was like a victory. It was probably too soon, but I had to try. ‘Heck yeah, this is good,’ I thought,” Valgren said.
It’s all about the small victories for Valgren at this stage and gradually building up his strength and his range of motion. He’s moving in the right direction and his bike is his best friend in that journey.
“Right now, I basically have to keep this range of motion without having too much pain and then really try to work on my pelvis and hip to get strong, so I am not compensating when I am on the bike, twisting and stuff like that,” he said. “That is the good thing about these injuries. The best thing that you can do to recover from them is to go on the bike, and that is my job, so the sooner I could get on the bike the better. I am finally back on the good path. I have much more range of motion in my knee. I can finally do a whole pedal stroke, so now things are moving forward again.”