Thursday, November 9, 2023 at 6:49 PM
Jan Maas successfully completed the Vuelta a España in September, but the last week was no fun. He completed his first ever Grand Tour with broken ribs, a lung infection and a respiratory infection. “I didn’t tell anyone, but the last two or three days I also spit blood in the finals of the stages,” he said in Cycling Insidea podcast by Niels Willemse, Coen Rijpma and Groupama-FDJ rider Lars van den Berg.
“I sat on the bike like a zombie. The first two weeks I actually rode quite well, but in stage thirteen I crashed on the descent of the Aubisque,” Maas began his story. “I broke my ribs, it turned out afterwards. I actually knew I had broken them, but I didn’t want to have a photo taken. I was afraid that the doctor, the organization or who knows what, would say: you are not allowed to realize your dream, you are not allowed to finish the Vuelta. So I tried to finish the Vuelta as tough as possible.”
It did not stop at broken ribs, because illness struck Jayco AlUla on the second day of rest. Two riders left the race, one of which had corona. “The three men who remained (including Maas, ed.) were all not feeling well. We didn’t test positive at that time, but we were all coughing. With a broken or bruised rib, that’s not really nice… Then it really went downhill.”
In recent days, Maas was an ‘old man’, he says. “I didn’t tell anyone, but the last two or three days I also spit blood in the finals of the stages. Did I not think: this is going way too far? I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone and now I wouldn’t do it myself either. But at that moment… (…) I guess I just wanted to prove it to myself, there was just that intrinsic motivation, and the stubbornness that I have or something.”
“If I had given up, I would have felt like a loser”
The night after he reached Madrid, Maas could not sleep. “When I was on my back I was coughing up blood all the time, so I was just panicking.” For that reason, he visited the hospital on Monday, where it turned out that the alveoli were so damaged by coughing that they were always covered in blood. Photos also showed that he had broken two and further research showed that he was suffering from both corona and an influenza virus. “One affects your lungs and the other affects your airways.”
“If I had given up in the Vuelta, I would have just felt like a loser,” Maas said finally. “It even goes so far that I am glad that I found out that I had those infections and those broken ribs, because if I had only broken a rib and deteriorated so much due to fatigue, I would have felt like a loser felt. That’s how bad it is in my head.”