Injury Updates From AG Insurance Soudal Quick-Step

This Spring Classics season, Team AG Insurance Soudal Quick-Step sadly had to deal with several injuries and illnesses. The good news is that everyone is now on the mend. Team doctor Sophie van Bakel provided the following updates:

“Maaike Boogaard missed races due to illness. She has been able to train again in Spain and will start the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. Lotta Henttala also struggled with illness, but recovered well until she developed a fever in the week before Paris-Roubaix. We took no risks because of her long-term health. She is currently training with caution. No new races have been defined yet.”

There were also crashes involving Maud Rijnbeek in Gent-Wevelgem, Ilse Pluimers in Ronde van Drenthe and Nicole Steigenga in Le Samyn.

“Ilse Pluimers crashed in Ronde van Drenthe,” Sophie continued. “She broke her hand. She needed a cast, but no surgery. The bone had to heal again and that took a while but now the cast has come off and she is back in training. Maud bruised her ribs and needed some time to recover. She is also back in training.”

Nicole Steigenga crashed in the final kilometre of Le Samyn early March and landed with her head on a curbstone. She suffered a concussion, which meant that the team’s concussion protocol was activated.

“There is improvement every week with Nicole, but she still has a while to go. We are extra cautious with a concussion. It’s literally damage to the brain because the head was violently shaken,” Sophie explained. “The brain needs to recover because you use the brain for literally everything, from daily tasks to professional sports. In the beginning it’s important to minimise the stimuli as much as possible. After that initial phase, you need to slowly restart again and that’s different in every person. If you over-activate the stimuli regulation system, your recovery takes longer. If you are not super careful there could even be permanent damage to the brain. Caution is the keyword because we don’t want someone to have lifelong consequences of a concussion. General health always prevails with our riders.”

Nicole is now slowly restarting her training. This is just 20 or 30 minutes of riding an indoor bike.

“We will assess how her body, but most importantly how her head reacts,” Sophie continues. “If you start too soon, the brain is not fully capable of processing stimuli. You need the brain fully healed for daily life: that goes for riding around in traffic but especially in a high-paced environment like a peloton. We keep monitoring Nicole, increase the time on the bike and hope the progress continues steadily.”

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