Joonas return delay is a blow for boss Geer

Joonas Kylmakorpi
Joonas Kylmakorpi

The Eastbourne Eagles were delivered a blow this week after number one rider Joonas Kylmakorpi was told he’ll be out for another two to three weeks.

The Eagles are also having difficulty finding a replacement for the Finnish rider, which, if struggles continue, will mean they must carry on using their own riders to fill the gap.

Kylmakorpi damaged his shoulder socket and cracked his collarbone in the Eagles’ home meet with Kings Lynn back in March.

His recovery was delayed slightly but he was confident he’d return when Eastbourne travelled to Belle Vue last Bank Holiday Monday.

However, that didn’t materialise as Kylmakorpi felt some pain in his shoulder when he had some try-outs the weekend before.

Team manager Trevor Geer said, “Joonas felt some pain so went to see a specialist in Spain and had an MRI scan. Unfortunately, the news back wasn’t good and he’ll be out for a bit longer.

“It’s disappointing because we were expecting him back this week and I was hoping I’d have my full squad available again.”

The last time Geer had a full-strength team was the opening fixture of the season at home to Belle Vue. Since then he has drafted in a couple of guest riders but has also been forced to use rider replacement for the majority of meets.

“It’s been hard not having a full team available because we’ve had to rely on the other riders being 100%. Luckily our reserves Timo Lahti and Denis Gizatullin are picking up points and if they weren’t, we’d be in real trouble.

“I am trying to look for a short-term replacement to bring in for 28 days while Joonas recovers but it’s proving difficult. We need to find someone not playing in this league but I’ve been speaking to some good riders and they just can’t commit to playing in the UK.”

The Eagles are scheduled to face one more meet before the end of the month, at home to Swindon. However, with fixtures against Belle Vue and Peterborough to be rearranged, the Eagles’ quiet schedule could fill up quickly.

Eastbourne were due to travel to Swindon last night (Thursday) but organisers were not confident that meet would go ahead after the Robins’ previous seven meets all fell victim to the rain, more of which was forecast over the West.

It means that an unbeaten Swindon side will not have raced in over a month when they travel to Arlington on May 19.

Geer said, “It will be a difficult meet with Swindon. They are a very good side and are in some decent form.

“At the moment, it seems to be that we don’t get off to a good start. It seems to take a few races for the boys to warm up but they do manage to turn it around, which is pleasing.”

Simon Gustafsson also returned from injury and illness to clinch the close victory over Coventry Bees last week with a final-heat victory.

“Simon has progressed massively since he’s been here and I’m really pleased with the way he’s riding at the moment.

ABOVE: JOONAS Kylmakorpi’s (centre) injuries afer a horror crash in King’s Lynn have taken longer than expected to heal