By Andrew Hood
Saul Raisin remained in a coma Sunday in a French hospital and Crédit Agricole team officials were cautiously optimistic the 23-year-old could see improvement this week.
“His condition hasn’t changed, but it’s stable, and that’s good in a situation like this,” Crédit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay told VeloNews before the start of Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.
“Every day he is stable, it’s better,” Legeay continued. “Thursday was the critical day. It was very bad and every day from that point is better if he does not become worse. We can only hope.”
Raisin crashed in Tuesday’s first stage at the Circuit de la Sarthe and was alert and conscious Wednesday afternoon, but suffered a cerebral edema early Thursday morning in a French hospital in Angers.
Emergency surgery helped ease pressure on Raisin’s brain and stabilized his condition to eliminate the immediate threat to his life.
Doctors remained guarded in their diagnosis and said it’s important to see improvement in Raisin’s condition in the coming 48 hours.
Legeay said it’s still unclear how Raisin fell about 2km from the finish line.
“I spoke with him Wednesday. He could remember racing at Sarthe and he could remember that I told him his girlfriend was coming, but he couldn’t remember how he crashed,” Legeay said. “Maybe he hit a tire or something in the road. There are crashes every day in cycling and it was unlucky to fall like this.”
Legeay once again denied that Raisin was epileptic and said reports that Raisin suffered some sort of seizure in a crash in 2003 in a French amateur race are also unfounded.
“The crash he had a few years, when he was choking on his tongue, that was from a reaction from falling,” he said. “It’s like when a boxer is knocked out. They are like in a state of shock after a hard blow to the head.”
Legeay traveled from Angers to support the team at Paris-Roubaix, where team captain Thor Hushovd lined up as one of the top favorites.
For Crédit Agriole, the precarious state of Raisin’s health weighs heavily on the riders and staff.
“It’s all very difficult. Saul is a young rider, he’s always smiling, he’s a great guy and very popular with everyone,” Legeay said. “The entire team is down.”
Legeay said he would return to the hospital to continue the vigil. Other team officials are at Raisin’s bedside to assist his parents and other family and friends who are forced to wait and pray.
“Waiting — it’s all we can do,” Legeay said. “We are all waiting, waiting, waiting. It’s awful.”