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Dutch cyclo-cross champion Mathieu van der Poel has a vague memory of the heavy spill that caused him to lose consciousness at Azencross Loenhout on Thursday.
“I didn’t think I was unconscious, but the first aid staff told me I was,” Van der Poel told the Belgian network Sporza. “I can imagine the moment of impact but I can’t remember it so well. I only know that I felt nothing in my face and had quite some pain in my neck. That was nasty.”
The 21-year-old Beobank-Corendon rider laid motionless on the ground for a couple of minutes after he lost control of the bike on a descent with less than two laps to go.
“I went past Meeusen on the outside, and I went with too much speed toward the mound,” he recalled. “Then the lights went out.”
Van der Poel was taken off the course on a stretcher and escorted to a nearby Belgian hospital. Although the former world champion sustained no significant injuries, he has made the decision to skip Sunday’s Grand Prix Sven Nys as a precaution and is hopeful of a January 8 return, when he is scheduled to defend his national title.
“I hoped right away that it wasn’t too bad, because the major crosses this season are still to come,” said Van der Poel. “I was groggy, but it looked worse than it actually was. I need to rest now for 48 hours and see how I feel afterwards, but I certainly won’t be racing in Baal.
“I want to go to Sint-Michielsgestel to defend my Dutch tri-color jersey.”