Lotto-Soudal’s Gerben Thijssen ‘able to have small conversation with family’ after Ghent Six Day crash

The 21-year-old suffered an awful crash on the first night of racing and was put in intensive care

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lotto-Soudal rider Gerben Thijssen was “able to have a small conversation with his family” after a crash at the Ghent Six Day left him in intensive care.

The 21-year-old Belgian fell heavily during the opening night of the historic track event, which resulted in the racing behind cut short.

Thijssen was rushed to hospital on Tuesday night (November 12) after suffering three small brain bleeds, three broken ribs and a fractured collarbone, which left him in intensive care.

His condition was reported as stable and Lotto-Soudal confirmed his condition had improved slightly on Wednesday.

The team said: “Fortunately there is some slight optimism. Less than 18 hours after his terrible crash, Gerben was able to have a small conversation with his family.

“Keep fighting Gerben.”

The 2019 Six Day Ghent, held on the iconic Kuipke velodrome, has been marred by serious crashes.

On Tuesday, Mark Cavendish went down at 70km/h during the one lap time trial, hitting his head and skipping the rest of the race, before Thijssen’s crash at around 11.15pm resulted in the event being cut short.

Then on Wednesday night, para-cyclists Kris Bosmans and Diederick Schelfhout crashed into the stands during the team sprint.

Bosmans suffered a complex fracture to his right leg and will need surgery, Schelfhout fractured a vertebrae and will be treated with stitches, while a spectator also suffered minor injuries and received care on site.

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Visually impaired rider Larissa Klaassen and her pilot Imke Brommer also fell earlier in the evening, crashing during the 500m time trial and both suffering slight concussion, bruises and scrapes.

Belgian disability sport charity Parantee-Psylos said: “Around 10.25 pm, Kris Bosmans experienced material failure during the team sprint, a discipline in which three Belgian riders competed against three Britons. A pedal crank broke and Kris could not keep his balance. Diederick Schelfhout could not avoid him and both riders fell over the stand in the bend

“We wish everyone a speedy recovery.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.