Mark Cavendish has said that the start to his 2022 season will be disrupted after his his Ghent Six crash and the resulting injuries, but noted that he hopes to be back on the bike within a few weeks.
The Manxman, who suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung in the crash on the final night of the famous track event last week, described the crash and the aftermath in an interview on Saturday.
Speaking to The Sun newspaper, he said that his first instinct after hitting the deck was to stand up to show his children, who were in attendance, that he was ok. He added that he hopes to be back training soon.
"When I crashed, I knew I'd done some damage and was in a bad way. That scares you," he said. "But the kids were there, and my instinct was to stand up, so they'd know I'm ok.
"I walked back to the cabins we stay in at the velodrome and when they'd gone, I was stretchered off to hospital.
"As professional sportspeople… we're used to broken bones and lungs heal quite quickly so I should be back in the saddle in a few weeks. It might push my season back a bit and I'll be in pain for a while, but I heal well so it's not too bad."
Cavendish, whose QuickStep contract negotiations have been put on hold after the crash, went down in the final Madison event of the Ghent Six last Sunday night after the riders hit water on the track. He ended up with nowhere to go after riders in front of him crashed first.
He was taken to Ghent hospital and spent the night in the ICU, spending several days recovering before his wife Peta picked him up on Thursday to drive him back to Britain.
"It was a freak accident caused by water on the track after a rider spilled his drink," he said. "There was a slip of wheels in front which started a chain reaction and caused a crash.
"I landed on a bike, broke my rips, and ripped a hole in my lung. The hole is behind my heart, which complicates things and makes it harder to monitor because it doesn't show on X-rays, but I'll survive."
Cavendish also spoke about his future plans, noting that he wants to keep on winning and competing for as long as possible. However, he didn't put a number on the wins – including at the Tour de France, where another triumph would see him pass Eddy Merckx for the all-time stage win record – he wants to reach.
"My goal is to try to win as much as I can, for as long as I can. There's no specific number I want to reach," he said.
"My family have been on the back end of my career for too long so first and foremost, I'll do what's best for them.
"But I have options and I have desires when it comes to what I do next. I'm not lucky to be a cyclist, because I have worked hard and sacrificed my whole life. But every day I'm on a bike, I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love and I'm fortunate that I'm in a position that I can choose what I want to do after in my career."
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