How much bad luck can you have? His crash in the Adriatica Ionica Race, on Saturday July 27 near the Slovenian border, wasn’t too serious itself, but the consequences have kept him hospitalized for over a month now.
“My broken nose wasn’t that bad, the fractured ankle wasn’t either. But the ligaments of my left ankle were torn and they didn’t do anything about it in Italy ”, explains Mathias De Witte. A medical blunder? “Either way, it’s inconceivable that they didn’t operate. Otherwise I would have been home already.”
He eventually underwent surgery in Belgium, in AZ Maria Middelares in Ghent. However, it didn’t resolve all of his problems. A piece of skin from the ankle had died off and had to be surgically removed. “After that operation, I chose to stay in the hospital. I didn’t want to risk an infection or become ill. Last week they successfully transplanted a piece of skin from the wrist on the ankle. I’m on the right track now and will most likely allowed to go home again this weekend or shortly after.”
De Witte will have stayed in the hospital for a month and a half; very frustrating for a rider who wants to race in order to earn a new contract. This year, unfortunately, that won’t be possible anymore for him. “I immediately knew my season was over,” says De Witte. “If the ligaments need to be operated… After that you have to recover, rebuild muscle mass. I could deal with it mentally, until Bjorg’s accident. I was devastated by the news. I heard him quite often before that. Now he’s no longer there, while for me it is only an ankle injury.”
In the meantime, recovery is going well and De Witte can already do all kinds of exercises in his hospital room. “Walking is still difficult, because I can’t put pressure on my foot. I do exercises from my bed and can shower independently and stuff. The muscles must now be fired up again. I still have to wear an open plaster for a while. It all needs some time of course after the operations, but it already looks pretty clean. And I’m always motivated to come back.”
If given the opportunity, De Witte would like to stay in cycling as a professional rider. “I would prefer to remain pro, yes. My manager is working on it. I don’t really know what the possibilities are, in this team or elsewhere. I’ll be very happy if I can get a chance somewhere.”