Recovered and back on the road
Four years on from a moped accident that nearly cost him not only his career but also his life, former Saxo Bank rider Jonny Bellis still won’t accept defeat in his battle to resurrect a once highly promising road career.
Bellis announced in February that he will return to the pro ranks in 2014 with the Danish Continental division outfit, Christina Watches. The 25-year-old raced for the Belgian amateur squad ILLI-Bikes in 2013 and had been due to stay with them this year. He changed plans when Planet-X, who supply him with track bikes, recommended him to Christina Watches, whom they also sponsor.
Bellis concedes that ILLI-Bikes were unhappy with this but says that the offer to return to a pro team was too good to refuse. “I hesitated a bit at first, because I needed to know that I’d actually get enough racing,” Bellis said. “That’s what I really need and it’s been a problem for me ever since the accident.
“Last year was the first season when I’ve raced a decent amount but it was a different style of racing in Belgium and a lower level. I also had knee problems that held me back. Now, with the new team, I want to get some good road racing until the end of June, then start focussing on the track and build up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow at the end of July.”
Bellis is a former European champion in endurance events on the track and his performances on the boards this winter prompted British Cycling coach Shane Sutton to endorse the move to Christina Watches. Sutton believes that, in terms of skills and race-craft, Bellis is now back to his pre-accident best. If he can add some power and lost confidence, he could be one of the riders to watch in the Scratch or Points race – and possibly the Individual Pursuit – at Glasgow. His Isle of Man team-mate, Mark Cavendish, will also be hoping for a strong ride from Bellis in the Road Race on 2 August.
Before that, Bellis was due to kick off his time at Christina Watches with a 10-day training camp in Italy in February. He then planned to make a permanent move to Tuscany to be closer to ex-rider Alberto Elli, one of the team’s directeurs sportifs.
Having infamously welcomed Michael Rasmussen in 2011, Christina Watches will again court controversy with its 2014 roster. In addition to Bellis and fellow Brit Jake Tanner, the team has confirmed deals for the German Stefan Schumacher, and Italians Mattia Gavazzi and Enrico Rossi, all three of whom have previously made headlines with their involvement in drug scandals.
Bellis’s highlypromising career was wrecked by a life-threatening moped crash in 2009
From one Danish team to another, Bellis will ride for Christina Watches in 2014
Bellis’s track success in recent times saw British Cycling coach Shane Sutton endorse his move to Christina Watches