What's Cool In Road Cycling

Stefan Denifl focused on fixing his right knee in order to return to racing for IAM Cycling in the spring

Stefan Denifl is chomping at the bit. Ever since finishing in 7th place overall at Paris-Nice in March of 2014, the 27 year old Austrian cyclist has been suffering through problems with his right knee. After having to abandon the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and not being able to race the Austrian national road race, Denifl was unable to complete the Classic de L’Indre, dispite his best efforts and capacity for suffering. The knee pain kept returning in spite of the proper care that he was taking. Unable to race since August 24, the IAM Cycling rider has certainly had his ups and downs. Eager not to take any unnecessary chances, the team management, in agreement with the doctors, did not require Denifl to join the team training camp held on Mallorca in December, nor was he able to join the most recent camp taking place on the Spanish island from January 12th to the 23rd. He will also be missing from the rosters of the first races of the season. Vincent Bürki, one of the doctors in charge of the medical team at the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG), explained the reasons necessitating Denifl’s unfortunate absence. “Stefan Denifl is suffering from an inflammation around the tendon in his right knee which can be explained in the context of chronic mechanical disorder of the right lower leg that he has suffered from since last season’s Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. Since the treatment involved in his retraining for a comeback takes time, his absence is expected to continue at least until Paris-Nice.”

At home in Innsbruck, Denifl is anxious to find a solution, and explains his situation. “At Paris-Nice last year, I was absolutely flying. I had lost weight just before the start of the season and I was in incredible shape. But everything was spoiled after I crashed in a stage of the Dauphiné Libéré. And then an old injury that I sustained in 2009 resurfaced without warning. I took care of myself. I followed all the prescriptions of the doctors to the letter, but every time I thought I was back to my usual level, the pain would return. We really tried everything and I even tried to return to racing at the Classic de L’Indre. But the problems came back and we had to agree with the doctors and the team management to cut my season short and give my knee time to recover. At the moment, I still have not touched a bike, but that doesn’t prevent me from working very intensively to regain all my abilities and maintain my fitness. Nearly every day, I am going to the physiotherapist for sessions that last between 2 and 4 hours. And I want to stay optimistic. I do see a little light at the end of the tunnel. But it still hasn’t proved to be easy. I had some really bad days before finding the strength to get back on track. Not much is missing and I am anxious to take a trip to Geneva next week to see the specialists at the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG) in order to take some additional steps toward my return to real training. I really miss not being able to take the same preparations as the rest of the guys in the pre-season and participate in the training camp on Mallorca. But I believe perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.”

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