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Steigenga Faces Recovery Challenges Before Returning To The Peloton

Nicole Steigenga wins in Dubai Tour UAE 2020

Nicole Steigenga has candidly expressed her sentiments on the arduous journey back to professional cycling following a severe crash during Le Samyn in February 2023. Speaking to Omroep Fryslan, the SD Worx-Protime rider shared her frustration and the confronting reality of watching her peers compete while she’s sidelined, unable to fully train for the beloved Tour of Flanders. “It’s confronting that others just carry on while I still can’t really train,” she revealed.

The accident, which saw Steigenga hit a kerb and collide head-first into a lamppost, initially diagnosed as a mild concussion, has left her with lingering symptoms that challenge her daily life and professional aspirations. Communication barriers with French-speaking doctors at the time of the incident led Steigenga to question the thoroughness of her examination and diagnosis. Reflecting on her recovery, she disclosed, “I’ve been through worse falls… but this time, I couldn’t manage more than ten minutes of walking without needing to rest.”

The path to recovery introduced Steigenga to the KNVB’s concussion clinic, where the prognosis extended her recovery timeline significantly beyond her initial expectations. The complexity of her symptoms, including issues with blood pressure, heart rate regulation during exertion, and a vision impairment in her left eye, have necessitated a multifaceted rehabilitation approach. Training with 3D glasses to correct her vision impairment, Steigenga finds solace in proactive steps towards recovery, despite the mental and physical hurdles.

Nicole Steigenga
Nicole Steigenga following Sofia Bertizzolo

As the Tour of Flanders approaches – a race akin to the World Championships of spring cycling – Steigenga faces the reality of spectating rather than participating. While she draws joy from supporting her team and engaging with the cycling community, the transition from competitor to spectator has been a poignant reminder of the journey ahead.

Despite the setbacks and uncertainties, Steigenga’s resolve remains unshaken, bolstered by support from her team and the inherent belief in her return to form. “I’m doing everything to come back as quickly as possible and not really accepting this situation because, yes, I just want to do my thing again.” As she navigates through her recovery, the goal of lining up at next year’s Tour of Flanders serves as a beacon of hope, symbolising not just a return to competition but a testament to her resilience and determination to overcome the challenges that have momentarily paused her career.