Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen admitted on Tuesday he was “very grateful” to be alive after his dreadful accident on the Tour of Poland earlier this month.
The 23-year-old Deceuninck-Quick Step rider was making his first public comment on the horrifying opening stage crash on August 5 which left him fighting for his life with severe facial injuries.
He was placed in a medically-induced coma and underwent a five-hour operation, regaining consciousness two days later.
In an emotional statement on his team’s website he acknowledged the enormous debt he owed to all the medical personnel involved in his treatment.
“The trauma doctors and nurses at the finish line in Katowice saved my life, for which I am extremely grateful to them,” he said.
“I spent a week in the intensive care unit at St. Barbara hospital in Sosnowiec. Here they immediately operated on me for five hours and gave me the chance to live. I am very grateful to all employees of this hospital.
“It was a difficult, dark period for me in the ICU, where I was afraid of not surviving.”
Jakobsen’s condition improved sufficiently for him to be moved back home to the Netherlands last week, but “multiple surgeries and treatments to fix facial injuries” lie ahead.
“Currently I am at home,” he added, “where the wounds in my face and my injuries can continue to recover”.
“In addition, I have to rest a lot in the coming months because of a severe concussion.”
He continued: “I want to let everyone know that I am very grateful that I am still alive.
“All the messages and words of support have given me tremendous strength. Step by step I can slowly look to the future, and I will fight to recover.”
Jakobsen was thrown into and over a barrier at 80 kilometres an hour (50mph) as he raced elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen on the opening stage in Katowice.
Groenewegen, from the Jumbo-Visma team, veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his compatriot into the security wall. Jakobsen somersaulted over the barriers before colliding with a race official.
Groenewegen went on to win the stage but was later disqualified. He has been suspended by his team pending an investigation from the UCI, cycling’s governing body.
Jakobsen’s Belgian teammate Remco Evenepoel won the Polish race, only to suffer a horror fall himself in Saturday’s Tour of Lombardy one-day classic.
He was flown home from Italy on Monday to continue his recovery from a fractured pelvis suffered in his spectacular season-ending spill when he plunged off a bridge and into a ravine.
Jakobsen concluded his message with particular thanks to “Dr. Rafael, who was my surgeon in Poland, Dr. Vanmol, who was present as a team doctor in Poland, (team boss) Patrick Lefevere who brought my family close to me” and “Agata Lang and family who, on behalf of the Tour of Poland, did very well in taking care of my family”.