Lotto-Soudal rider Stig Broeckx has emerged from the coma he has been in for six months since a crash involving two race motorbikes at the Tour of Belgium in May.
The incident happened less than two months after another Belgian rider, Wanty-Gobert’s Antoine Demoitié, died after he was hit by a motorbike during Gent-Wevelgem.
In June, Lotto-Soudal said that the Broeckx was in a vegetative state and that the outlook was not hopeful.
But more recently, team manager Marc Sergeant revealed that the 26-year-old was starting to respond to stimuli.
Now, speaking to Sporza from the team’s training camp in Mallorca, team doctor Servaes Bingé said that Broeckx is no longer officially in a coma, and is even starting to put muscle back on.
“Stig is still not a healthy lad, but the progress is positive,” he said. “He sleeps a lot, but that’s because he works very hard. Sitting in a wheelchair, he will even cycle with a kind of step machine.
“The doctors cannot yet say how far his progress will go,” he went on. “But this is already much more than anyone could have imagined a while back. Clearly, it’s all needed a bit of time.”
The doctor added: "Stig is learning to swallow independently again, and to say small, simple words such as ‘tot morgen’ ['tomorrow'].” That’s encouraging and positive. He’s communicating verbally with his family, all at a very low level of course.
“He also recognises other riders. That communication is even possible is more positive than could be put into words.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.