LONDON (Reuters) - Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen will return to the peloton at the eighth-stage Tour of Turkey this weekend, eight months after suffering horrific injuries in a crash in Poland.
Speaking in a team video, the 24-year-old Deceuninck-Quick-Step sprinter conceded he was "excited but a little nervous" about being back in the bunch.
"I'm doing quite well and I'm building my condition up," Jacobsen said. "It feels good to be on the bike and really live like a pro cyclist again."
Jacobsen was placed in a medically-induced coma and underwent five hours of surgery for a brain trauma after being pitched into the barriers after a high-speed collision with compatriot Dylan Groenewegen as they sprinted to the finish on the first stage of the Tour of Poland last August.
He also suffered severe facial injuries and needed reconstructive surgery with bone from his pelvic crest being used to rebuild his upper and lower jaw.
Jacobsen still bears the scars of the accident and said it has been a hard road back from spending a week in an intensive care bed unable to move.
"Everyone has supported me on the way back, my family, and the team is my second family. It's been a difficult period of course with COVID as well, but it was really nice to see the team again and emotionally quite touching," he said.
"When I came back from Poland I was not even in a state to take care of myself so my family has done that for me and they are everything to me. So it's special for them to see a son or a brother or a family member come back and make it happen."
Jacobsen said just racing again was his first target, but hopes he will be back to his best in 2022 or 2023.
"Everyone gets bumps in their lives or big mountains and in my case it was a crash," he said. "The thing I always put in my mind was one day it will become better, maybe tomorrow or the day after, but if I quit I won't get there.
"Now I feel okay. Excited and a little bit nervous to be back in the bunch and out of the country which are quite big things. But I look forward and even though I'm a little bit scared I want to race as I enjoy it so much.
"The second goal second goal is to hopefully raise my arms again to win a race."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)