The next day, De Marchi’s Tour de France would come to an end with a nasty crash that would leave the Italian with a fractured collarbone, rib, and a lung contusion. The highs and lows of cycling from one day to the next.
De Marchi’s recovery from the season-ending crash involved surgery the following week to fixate the collarbone fracture, months of rehab, and a second surgery to remove the collarbone plate which was performed on October 30. Now, De Marchi is ready to get back to his best.
A season-ending crash
“We knew immediately that the crash was serious and realized it would be a fairly long recovery process. However, in the beginning, we thought it would be a bit easier than what it has been,” De Marchi explained. “Four or five weeks after the crash, we understood that the collarbone plate would be problematic, especially because of the position on the bike and we were conscious of the risks if I crashed again. With this in mind, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to race again this season so we shifted the focus to the 2020 season. The impact of the collarbone plate on my body was quite hard because it made it difficult to sleep and in the beginning, the ribs were really painful. So, general living was quite hard in the first month. We did quite a lot of rehabilitation work on the shoulder and now, with the plate removed, the recovery should be much faster. After one week to ten days of easier training, I should be able to start working my way back to a normal training load.”
Getting back in the saddle
In the last five or six years, I have never been home in August or September so it was strange, but it was nice to be able to spend the time with my family. After 50 days, I was able to ride my bike and slowly started to feel better and that helped me to start thinking about the next season. It was painful because of the positioning and I was out of training but on the other side, it was really a relief and pure happiness. It was just a 50-kilometer ride but it was important for my mind. The body is a key for an athlete, you have to take care of it and it’s fundamental for top performance, but this is nothing without the main switch, the central unit, the mind. A strong mind and the right attitude approaching these things are crucial. This is what I learned and asked myself, could I be more and more determined and strong? Yes, I could!
“I would say this has been the hardest moment of my career. What I have learned is that this is a part of our job and something that we, unfortunately, can’t avoid. Maybe I have been quite lucky in more or less ten years of being professional, but this crash is one I won’t forget. I think it has made me wiser. The older you get, the more you can find the strength to overcome something like this and I think understand the gravity of it. When you are younger, maybe you take more risks. But I hope to get back to how I was the day before the crash and maybe even better and stronger.”
Looking ahead to 2020
I am curious to see how I react when I start to race again because I am still a bit scared about this. I think it will take a few months to really get back to a perfect racing condition and build my confidence up after half a season without racing. I am really focused on starting the season in good shape and then looking ahead of my goals, the spring classics and then probably the Tour de France and hopefully, Tokyo in the summer.