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"The doctors told me that I'd never ride a bike anymore. But I was in a survival mood. I wasn't thinking too much, so I never believed what they said about my cycling," Van Winden tells Cyclingnews




03.11.2013 @ 17:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dennis Van Winden faced the prospect of ending his career when a bacterial infection in his leg left in serious condition after four different operations to solve a minor issue. However, Van Winden has defied the doctors' expectations and recently was part of the Belkin team that dominated the Tour of Hainan.


Dennis Van Winden was having a bright future ahead of him when he moved from the Rabobank Continental team to the elite team for the 2010 season. While he never managed to reach the same heights he did as a U23 rider when he showed great promises as a future sprinter, he established himself as a valuable lead-out man on the team that is now known as Belkin.


At the end of the 2012 season - which had finished well with a 5th place in Binche-Tournai-Binche - he decided to undergo an operation to his iliac artery to address a condition that had impacted his cycling performances for four years.


"I didn't have energy in my right leg, and I was producing more and more lactate," he told Cyclingnews in an interview. He had his first operation on November 15 but had to go through three additional surgeries on December 7, 30 and 31 respectively.


From there, things unravelled for the young Dutchman.


"The surgery was successful but a band in the artery created a bacterial infection in my blood," he said. "It didn't heal on time. The main artery was bleeding. It was painful. I couldn't feel my leg anymore. The pressure from inside was getting high. I had a 42-degree fever when I was at the hospital. I had to call a doctor if I wanted to do anything, like eating. They were scared that I'd faint."


Van Winden got the worst possible prediction from the medical staff.


"The doctors told me that I'd never ride a bike anymore," he said. "But I was in a survival mood. I wasn't thinking too much, so I never believed what they said about my cycling."


Van Winden defied expectations and gradually got back in training. He returned to competition in the Rund um Köln in May and rode several stage races in the second half of the season, abandoning most of them.


However, the racing allowed him to build up renewed strength and by the time he reached the Tour of Beijing, he was ready to do his job.


"I've worked very hard to be a pro cyclist, I didn't want my career to end so quickly," he said. "The team has always supported me. In my first races back, I tried to help, but I couldn't do much until the Tour of Beijing, my first World Tour race where I could finally do good work for the team."


Van Winden travelled from Beijing to the Tour of Hainan where he was part of the Belkin team that won all 9 stages and put Moreno Hofland on the top step of the podium. Having regained his strength, he is now ready to ride for Belkin in 2014 where he will resume his quest to take his first professional win and take his place in Theo Bos' lead-out train.


"I feel my body is totally reset and prepared for a great season next year," he said.



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