17-year-old Lorenzo Gobbo was seriously injured when he was impaled by a half-metre long splinter in a crash during the Junior and U23 European Track Championships at the Eddy Merckx velodrome in Gent on Friday.
Gobbo was competing in the scratch race when a number of riders crashed and a huge piece of the track was lifted by a hard impact from a pedal. The splinter went through Gobbo's back, puncturing his lung.
The Italian was rushed to the Jan Palfijn hospital and underwent a three-hour surgery to remove the splinter, and is expected to recover fully.
Gobbo understandably does not feel like returning to the track at the moment, but kept his sense of humor, according to Frank Glorieux, director of the Wielerbond Vlaanderen.
"I just visited him again," Glorieux said, according to Sporza.be. "He is on intensive care. He has not had the best night, but he has no fever and is progressing well. There is a chance that he may go to a normal room tomorrow. "
"He said he would have won rather than make the newspapers this way. He could still laugh, but he doesn't want to ride on the track for the time being. He will have to find his courage. He should recover completely, but there is a long recovery time ahead for him."
It is not the first time a rider has been seriously injured by splinters from a velodrome surface: in 2011, Azizulhasni Awang's calf was impaled by a long splinter during the UCI Track World Cup in Apeldoorn.