Two days after the crash Van den Broeck visited doctor Toon Claes in the hospital of Herentals. The diagnosis wasn’t minor: A partial crack of the posterior cruciate ligament, a partial crack of the medial ligament, an injury of the cartilage, a bone bruise and a bruise of the patella tendon was concluded. Apart from that also blood was drawn two times out of the knee.
Doctor Toon Claes: “Today I dare say that everything will be okay, where immediately after the surgery I had some doubt. Because what Jurgen had can definitely be classified as a ‘severe injury’. At the latest checkup on Monday I could determine after clinical tests that the evolution is positive and a scan confirmed it. During his recovery Jurgen has, far away from the bike, got the chance to strengthen his body entirely. At the moment he’s even a little bit ahead of schedule. Half October he goes on a holiday, then there will be a new test, presumably after that he’ll get the all-clear to start the specific bike trainings in function of the training build-up towards the start of the season. Another six weeks later we’ll be better able to say what might be his first goals of the season.”
After the surgery by doctor Toon Claes on Wednesday 10th of July Van den Broeck couldn’t lean on the joint for over three weeks. On the 29th of July he started the recovery at Move to Cure, the rehabilitation centre of Lieven Maesschalck.
Physiotherapist Lieven Maesschalck: “Each patient gets a specific approach, but of course for top sportsmen and sportswomen we go much further. Jurgen doesn’t only do his rehabilitation, but also prevention is for example a very important part, three times a week he does aqua-jogging, power exercises, he works on his stability,.. I dare to say: Jurgen Van den Broeck will be back. Bike training is part of the recovery process, but isn’t the most important. Also the disciplined way, the mentality with which he comes each day for hours for his rehabilitation is a real model. From the moment he will restart the specific bike training, that will stay combined with exercises, and that definitely for some months, until he’s ready to compete again.”
Van den Broeck himself is longing for the bike; “nothing is more pleasant than racing yourself”, but he realizes from how far he has come. The baker started when Van den Broeck didn’t come by car but with the bike.
Jurgen Van den Broeck: “You can’t imagine how much I enjoyed those short trips. Then you realize how much you love cycling. I feel good, although I’d feel better if I actually could race. The doctor is optimistic, the recovery goes well and I hope to perform as good as possible for my team in 2014.”
“The evening just after the crash you have hope that you can start the day after, but when you can’t sleep at night because of the pain and in the morning you can’t get to the breakfast table, then you know. When team doctor Jan Mathieu drew fluid out of the knee and that actually was all blood, we knew it was a serious internal injury and that starting would be impossible. If I’d ride as close to the sprinters next time? Look at the results of Evans and Froome. Each day they finish between place 15 and 30, just like most of the other top five candidates. If I sit further and there falls a gap and I lose 20 seconds that way, and I could forget a good GC like was the case in Catalunya, everybody would say I should race more attentively. Maybe the solution in flat stages is a time registration at five kilometers from the finish line; that way you split the interests of the sprinters and GC riders, but on the other hand it are the risks of the job.”
“The first period after my operation really wasn’t fun. The swelling of the knee was so huge that only lying on the couch was an option. Sometimes I thought about setting my mind on something else, but after for example fifteen minutes on a terrace I realized I had to go and lie down again. The frustration I did have two years ago when I had to watch from the side and while watching TV I was thinking I was worth my place in the front, I now felt less. I switched my thoughts pretty fast. I never really worried if I could come back at my level, but I did think often about how much I would suffer, how the recovery would go and how long it would last.”
“The next weeks I’ll continue my rehabilitation with Lieven Maesschalck. On a certain moment I could take a ride of three to four hours, but together with the many hours of rehabilitation that was too much. After consulting all involved , and to make the hunger for the bike as big as possible, we decided to reduce the amount of hours on the bike a bit. I was doing my rehabilitation each day from 7:00 until 19:00, and that couldn’t last. In the middle of October I’ll go on a holiday. After that the training build-up should start. In big lines my programme will stay the same, although there’s the chance that after a few years absence I’ll ride Paris – Nice or Tirreno – Adriatico again. The first part of the season I will aim for a good result in the WorldTour stage races. After a week of rest I’ll then start my preparation for the Tour. That’s why the criticism about the fact that my season is too much focused on the Tour isn’t correct.”