Michael Valgren continues to fight for his career, but is refusing to contemplate life without racing as he makes small but significant progress in his comeback from major injuries sustained this summer.
The Danish rider, former winner of Amstel Gold Race and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, crashed at high speed on a descent at the Route d’Occitannie in June, fracturing his pelvis as well as rupturing both major ligaments and the meniscus in his knee.
Doctors told him he might never race his bike again, and that might still turn out to be the case, but Valgren can now see light at the end of the tunnel.
He is back on his bike, albeit indoors and only for 15 minutes at a time, no more than three times a day.
“I love my job, and I will do anything I can to get back to it,” the 30-year-old said in an update from EF Education-EasyPost.
“I really don’t want to end my career with an injury. I always want to say I will stop when I don’t want to do this any more, and I am absolutely not ready to stop.
“I love my life. Not being on the bike, not being a bike rider, is something that I just can’t think about at the moment.”
Valgren spent weeks in a pelvis support, slowing regaining strength and function. A breakthrough came two weeks ago, when he underwent Manipulation Under Anaesthesia procedure to break up scar tissue in his knee. The following day, he got on his home trainer and turned a pedal for the first time since June.
“It was like a victory,” he said. “It was probably too soon, but I had to try. ‘Heck yeah, this is good’, I thought.”
As it stands, Valgren still has to be patient. His team described his daily routine as starting with an hour and a half on a knee-bending machine, before three and a half hours at the physio, and then back home for more hours on the knee-bender. He can break that up with riding at low resistance for three 15-minute sessions during the day.
“I went from training 25-30 hours per week to not doing a single thing cardiovascular wise for months. It was hard, because you get a lot of energy from doing exercise,” Valgren said.
“I was still doing exercises, but those exercises at the physio are more just about pushing through pain. It’s not a nice feeling. I am trying to get through it in the best possible way, but it is not like I get a big kick out of it. I really miss getting a good sweat on and getting my heart rate up.
“The good thing about these injuries is that the best thing that you can do to recover from them is go on the bike, and that is my job, so the sooner I could get on the bike the better.
“I am finally back on the good path. I have much more range of motion in my knee. I can finally do a whole pedal stroke, so now things are moving forward again.”
As for when he might return to the professional peloton, that’s still unclear.
“I’ll be honest. When I’m going to be at full strength is hard to say but, I am in really good hands and I am working hard every day, so sooner or later I will be back.”