Tom Boonen has all but recovered from the injuries suffered in a crash at the Abu Dhabi Tour, but the Belgian says his hearing has been damaged permanently.
The Etixx-Quick Step rider went down on stage two of the race in October and was forced to stay in the Middle East well after his teammates went home, with doctors concerned that flying would trigger blood clots after his head trauma.
Apart from his hearing, 35-year-old Boonen says he's on track to return in time for the new season, with initial fears that he would be out for six months and miss most of the Classics season.
"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 (opens in new tab).
"They had told me [the recovery time would be] six months, we are now two months on and I'm training well. I've never even had any bother, just my ear,"
In 2016, Boonen will be looking to win a record-breaking fifth Paris-Roubaix title as well as a fourth Tour of Flanders. He missed the Classics season in 2015 after damaging his shoulder in a crash at Paris-Nice in early March.
Boonen hasn't given any indication of when he will retire, but in his interview with Het Nieuwsblad, the Belgian indicated that he will move into motorsport when he ends his career on two wheels.
"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."
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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