Keagan Girdlestone returned to UCI racing, competing in the opening stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic.
Almost 19 months after he cannoned through the window of a team vehicle during a race in Italy, the 20-year-old completed the first stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic and finished in the bunch.
After his crash on June 5, 2016, which severed his carotid artery and jugular vein, caused brain bruising and resulted in several strokes and a cardiac arrest on the operating table and the death of 30 per cent of the right-hand side of his brain, Girdlestone was told he would not race again.
However, the opening stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic was his first UCI event since his crash. Girdlestone crossed the line in 64th place, finishing in the same time as the 11th place finisher Anthony Giacoppo.
“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever had since the accident,” he said. “Clearly, I have no great expectations, just a list of goals that I will check off during the tour as I reach them: finish in group, then finish in the first 20, then try to attack, then finish on the podium, then… I am an opportunist: if there’s a chance to get the result and my legs are fine, I’ll try.”