03/26/2009 AT 7:55 AM ET
Lance Armstrong has to do one of those rare things he’s never been successful at: Taking it slow.
Recovering in Austin, Texas, after a five-inch stainless-steel plate and 12 screws were inserted in his collarbone, Armstrong, 37, will be up and at ‘em in a week, his doctor says.
“Our goal was to stabilize his fracture as quickly as possible, but in a safe fashion, and then allow Lance to do the things he does best,” Dr. Douglas Elenz says.
Armstrong’s injury was more complicated than first believed after his collision with other riders during a race in Spain on Monday. “This was a challenge. It was a hard case,” Elenz says.
The Champ Unbound
It isn’t going to be any easier with Armstrong’s famously unquenchable drive. “Lance is going to be a patient who is going to push the envelope,” Elenz says.
To that end, he’s ordered Armstrong to do as little as possible during his first week. Then, though the injury will take eight to 12 weeks to heal completely, Armstrong will undergo an extraordinary recovery.
“After his wound is healing, we’re going to let Lance get on an indoor exercise bike, work on his aerobic fitness and his leg strength,” Elenz says.
Taking Small Steps
As Armstrong’s collarbone mends, his doctor will “advance him off the exercise bike on to the street and take it day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month We’re going to have to allow him to train and even potentially ride with a fracture that is not 100-percent healed.”
And that’s okay with Armstrong, attempting to win an unprecedented eighth Tour de France in July after three years of retirement. In a pre-surgery teleconference Tuesday, he said he’s still thinking about entering a May 9 race in Italy.
“In my opinion, the Giro d’Italia is still very do-able,” he said.