Mark Cavendish has been admitted to hospital in Belgium after being airlifted there with two broken ribs and a collapsed lung following a heavy crash in the season-ending Tour of Flanders in Ghent.
The seven-time world road race champion suffered the injury in the 14th stage of the 30-stage event on Thursday, a 156km trek that took the riders from Greenup to the city centre of Ghent.
Recovering on his bike following the incident – which saw him have his helmet thrown from his bike by the force of the crash – Cavendish said he was desperate to race again. “I didn’t know my ribs were broken,” he told Radio Kent. “I remember kind of a hot flash from the impact. That was about the last thing I remember.
“I came round in the ambulance and I had two pink helmets around my head and I was trying to think: ‘How bad is it? What’s broken?’ And the doctor comes round: ‘D’you want a CT?’ I was like: ‘Of course I want a CT.’ And when the other doctor tells me: ‘You have your ribs broken and your lung collapsed’ I was like: ‘He’s right, you’re spot on!’ I was fine. I just couldn’t breathe. That’s what I remember.
“I woke up and I just couldn’t move, the blood was draining out and I couldn’t breathe. I had those hard dark eyes and I was in pain.
“After surgery I was trying to do a recovery with two blisters. Then I woke up in the recovery room to have a diet of rice and a slice of bread and apple. I was so hot, I was sweating so much I tried to swallow my own vomit. But then I woke up and was in a real good frame of mind: ‘I’m not going to have much after surgery. I’m going to move on.’ And that’s the only way I can move on.”
Cavendish is scheduled to be released from hospital on Friday after surgery. On Friday the 32-year-old confirmed his intention to compete in next year’s Giro d’Italia.
“When you’re in that kind of pain,” Cavendish said, “where you’re worried about not waking up tomorrow and if you have to have an operation, you think: ‘I’ve got to get the Giro in.’ So that’s why I said: ‘Why not?’”