Bakelants back surgery successful

PARIS (AFP) — Jan Bakelants, who broke two vertebrae and suffered seven rib fractures in a shocking fall during Il Lombardia, came out of intensive care on Monday three days after back surgery.

The 31-year-old Belgian, who rides for Ag2r La Mondiale, suffered the horror fall on a perilous descent in the Italian one-day classic in early October.

“The operation has been a success,” Ag2r said on Monday of the procedure on his A3 vertebrae that took place in Belgium Friday.

“Jan can go home later in the week and continue his convalescence there, but it’s too early to say when he’ll be back in training.”

Another Belgian, Laurens De Plus, was also hurled over his handlebars and off the edge of the same road into a deep ravine during the race in northern Italy.

Two other riders also crashed on the same hazardous section of the route as Bakelants.

Italian Simone Petilli suffered a broken collarbone and shoulder blade, and fractures to his neck and one vertebra, as well as a concussion and a cut to his forehead.

Colombian Daniel Martinez escaped any fractures.

Photographer Kristof Ramon posted this photo of Bakelants’s bike after the crash:

Most surreal & horrific picture I ever made during a cycling race… #IlLombardia #4metersup

A post shared by Kristof Ramon (@kramon_velophoto) on

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Bakelants slated for surgery after Il Lombardia horror crash

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.

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.

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Belgian rider Bakelants apologizes for sexist remarks at Tour

DUSSELDORF, Germany (AFP) — Belgian rider Jan Bakelants was forced into a humble apology after making “inappropriate” and sexual remarks about Tour de France hostesses.

The 31-year-old Ag2r – La Mondiale rider, who won a stage at the 2013 Tour, got himself into hot water after giving what he thought was a humorous reply to a question about sexual abstention during the three-week Tour.

After making a reference to pornographic movies, he added in an interview in Wednesday’s Het Laastse Nieuws, “There are also the podium hostesses.”

At the end of each Tour stage, the podium hostesses present the yellow jersey to the overall race leader as well as the other jerseys being contested, before posing for photos on the podium with the jersey holders.

Bakelants, who is married and has a young daughter, further compounded his gaff by adding later that he would pack condoms in his suitcase for the Tour because “you never know where those podium hostesses have been.”

After Tour organizer ASO demanded an apology for the “sexist” remarks, a contrite Bakelants took to Twitter to express his remorse.

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