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Lehikoinen seriously injured after signing new contract

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G-Cross Honda)

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G-Cross Honda) (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

Just three days after signing a multi-year contract with his new team MS Intense Factory Racing, 23 year-old Matti Lehikoinen had a serious accident when filming with a friend in Helsinki. The Finnish rider fractured his number four vertebrae once and his number five vertebrae twice.

"He told me that he went to go off a very small drop off, about a meter high, on his home trails when something caught his rear wheel just as his front wheel left the drop off. The bike pitched suddenly forward and threw him over the handlebars onto his back," said Martin Whiteley of 23 Degrees Sports. "He knew immediately that he had suffered a severe injury, and remained still as his mate called for the ambulance."

"I landed directly onto my head, but slightly to the right," said Lehikoinen. "The helmet is marked on the top at the right. Also I have a big skin abrasion on my right collarbone where the jawline of the helmet cut me, that's how far over my head was. The doctors feel that on impact my spine twisted one way, and then the next, like a zig zag, and they say it's a miracle it's not a lot worse. The three vertebrae have what they call a compressed fracture. They are in the area of the spine that is level with the chest.

"I'm still in pain but can breathe fairly comfortably, but I want to thank everyone who has contacted me with nice messages, it makes you realise how lucky you are to have so many friends and people that care, and that makes me want to get better as soon as possible."

His doctors gave good news early this week. Lehikoinen will not need an operation to stabilize his fractured vertebrae. An operation would have meant going in through the front of the chest cavity. Doctors also confirmed there are no floating bones pieces, so he will be transferred in the coming days to a recovery and rehabilitation center where he is expected to make a full recovery after several months.

Lehikoinen, who currently rides for Team G Cross Honda, recently finished seventh in the Maribor, Slovenia final World Cup downhill event and ended up second overall in the World Cup.

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