Mark Cavendish suffered a high-speed crash on the opening night of the Ghent Six Day.
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The first race day of the historic track event was eventually stopped early, after Belgian racer Gerben Thyssen suffered serious injuries in a fall and was rushed to hospital.
Cavendish, racing with his former team-mate Iljo Keisse, crashed during the one-lap time trial, the fourth race of the night on the famous Kuipke velodrome.
After being thrown into action by a handsling from Keisse, Cavendish lost traction on the steep banks of the 167m track and went down at 70km/h.
The Brit was able to stand and give the crowd a wave, but he then sat out the rest of the racing on the opening night on Tuesday (November 11). Cavendish suffered heavy scrapes and hit his head in the crash, breaking his helmet.
Keisse, who rides for Deceuninck – Quick-Step on the road, told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad: “You don’t want to experience that as a rider.
“It was a heavy dally at 70km/h. He was scraped all over his body and he fell on his head. His helmet is broken. He can take a beating but it remains to be seen whether he can continue.”
The event was further marred by crashes, after Lotto-Soudal’s Gerben Thyssen fell heavily just after 11.15pm, suffering broken ribs and collarbone, as well as three small bleeds on the brain.
He was rushed to hospital in Ghent and is currently in the intensive care unit, his condition described as stable.
A statement from Lotto-Soudal said: “Gerben Thyssen will spend the coming days in intensive care at UZ Hospital in Ghent after a CT scan revealed three small intracranial bleeds.
“Gerben is now in a stable condition, but he needs further monitoring in the coming days by the treatment team doctors.
“Thyssen broke a collarbone and three ribs as well.”