Bart Wellens had luck on his side in Sunday's Superprestige Cyclo-Cross race, as he suffered no fractures in a horrendous crash. Fears that he had broken both his neck and wrist proved to be unfounded, although both are severely bruised.
The Belgian slipped on a piece of ice and went head first into a ditch, landing on his neck with his head to one side. His immediate groans of pain proved he was still alive. The worst damage was done to his helmet, which was broken into a number of pieces.
Wellens' immediate concern was for his right wrist, which he had broken earlier in the season. “Guys, this does not look good, I have the same feeling as the World Cup in Hooglede-Gits [when he broke it],” he said on his way to hospital, according to Sportwereld.be. “I can't move it, I can't hold my handlebars. And it hurts like hell.”
The trip to the hospital took three hours, but it brought good news. “The x-rays seemed to show that the wrist was broken, but a CAT scan showed it wasn't,” doctors Bart T'Seven said. “He has a severe bruise on his wrist, especially around the carpal bone. He also severely bruised his neck.” Wellens must wear a brace on both his neck and wrist for several weeks.
The fateful patch of ice was on a piece of asphalt at a corner. “I knew it was a dangerous place, I had seen that during the warm up. But in this course you have to go all out.”
"I had just caught the leading group and it was a crucial moment. I had to go for it.”
Still, the crash took him by surprise. “You don't think of going doing in such a stupid way, when there are so many other slicker patches on the course. But suddenly my front wheel went bottom up and I flew with my head to the ground.”
The 32-year-old will fly today, bruises and all, to a training camp in Spain. First he will put in two days of rest before preparing for next Sunday's World Cup race in Igorre, which he expects to ride.