Mathieu van der Poel suffered a serious crash on the penultimate lap at Thursday’s Azencross race in Loenhout, and lay motionless on the course as racers sped by and fans’ hearts stopped.
After not moving for what seemed like an eternity, volunteers and then medics came to his side. Eventually, Van der Poel had to be removed from the course with a stretcher.
While many assumed he blacked out due to a concussion after going over the bars and hitting his head, the team has announced in a press release that the Dutch star suffered a bruised neck and never lost consciousness.
Van der Poel crashed after attempting to close a gap between two Telenet Fidea Lions teammates, Toon Aerts and Tom Meeusen, after Meeusen paused after an Aerts attack.
“Aerts attacked and I saw that Tom Meeusen dropped back. I wanted to pass Tom, but because I was so focused that maneuver I did not realize I actually had too much speed,” Van der Poel recalls of pass of Meeusen as he approached a short, steep roller (translated). “I got my front wheel up and flew over my bike.”
“I fell on my face and was groggy,” he said . “I couldn’t feel my face but I never lost consciousness. Now I mostly have pain in my neck and my nose.”
“I wanted to pass Tom, but because I was so focused that maneuver I did not realize I actually had too much speed.” -Mathieu van der Poel
While “groggy” is open to interpretation, not losing consciousness does not mean he avoided a concussion. With an ever-growing body of research on the danger of concussions and brain injuries, we certainly hope Van der Poel has the best medical attention and rests his brain if there’s any suspicion of a concussion.
In the hospital, Van der Poel was examined for injuries. “Fortunately there are no fractures,” said a relieved Van der Poel.
The team states his participation at the GP Sven Nys in Baal on January 1 is still possible, while Van der Poel said he still has big hopes for the Dutch Championship the following week.