Tom Boonen is making a swift recovery from the crash that ended his 2015 season, but has revealed that he has been left with permanent damage to his hearing.
The Belgian came down heavily on stage two of the Abu Dhabi Tour in October and was taken away in an ambulance after hitting his head and losing consciousness, with blood coming from his left ear. He suffered a temporal fracture, and was was prevented from flying back home for two weeks.
"I lost part of my hearing and it is permanent. That is anoying but you get used to it," Boonen told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday.
That said, every other aspect of the 35-year-old's recovery seems to be going well and things seem to be ahead of schedule, which is a good indication for next spring. Originally, doctors warned he may face six months out, which cast a big doubt over what would be one of his final spring Classics campaigns, but he has been training as normal without problem.
"They had told me six months, we are now two months later and I'm training well. I've never even had any bother, just my ear," Boonen said.
Since the crash, the Etixx-QuickStep rider has always that he didn't think it would take six months to recover.
"I quickly got my memory back, I know where I was before the fall happened, I remember everything after I had returned to consciousness, and my motor skills are good. I can talk normally, I can see everything," he said in the aftermath.
"All that was reassuring. If there is no pressure on the brain in the first five hours, the greatest danger has passed."
Boonen also revealed in the interview with Het Niuewsblad that he plans to take up motor racing when he finally hangs up his cycling wheels. He told of how has often visited the Zolder or Spa-Francorchamps tracks after training to practise his driving.
"It is 100 per cent certain that after my cycling career is over I'll be in motorsport," said Boonen. "There are quite a few championships in Belgium where you can have fun as an amateur. The ultimate goal is the 24 hours of Zolder, close to home, family and friends."