After a cycling crash that ripped a hole in his lung, Mark Cavendish hid his pain from his children.
Before being taken to the hospital after breaking two ribs and "ripping a hole in his lung" in a terrifying on-track crash, Mark Cavendish insisted on walking back to his cabin to show his wife and children that he was okay.
Last Sunday, the Briton was competing in the final race of a cycling event in Ghent, Belgium, when he and another rider crashed out.
Cavendish described the incident as "a freak accident" caused by a spilled drink from a rider ahead of him.
"There was a front-end wheel slip that set off a chain reaction and resulted in the crash," he told The Sun.
"I fell off a bike, breaking my ribs and ripping a hole in my lung."
"The hole is behind my heart, which complicates things and makes it more difficult to monitor because it's not visible on X-rays, but I'll make it."
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, he didn't know any of those details; all the 36-year-old could feel was a searing pain across his chest.
But he knew he had to downplay his pain so that his young family didn't become overly concerned.
"I knew I'd done some damage and was in a bad way when I crashed, and that scares you," he continued.
"However, the kids were present, and my instinct was to stand up and let them know I was fine."
Have your say on whether Mark Cavendish is the greatest sprinter of all time. "I walked back to the velodrome's cabins, and when they'd gone, I was stretchered off to hospital."
Cavendish has quashed retirement rumors with some outstanding performances in 2021, having won 34 Tour de France stages, the most in the competition's history.
He won four stages in Turkey before winning the Tour of Belgium, and he was Team Deceuninck-Quick-Step's lead sprinter at the Tour de France, where he won the points classification for the second time in his career.
Despite his serious injuries, he was released from the intensive care unit on Thursday and anticipates returning to riding in the New Year.
More importantly, he wants to "win as much as he can" before calling it a day on his illustrious career.
"There's no specific number I want to reach," he said, referring to his joint record of Tour de France stage wins with Eddy Merckx.
"I consider myself fortunate to be able to do what I enjoy, and I consider myself fortunate to be in a position to choose what I want to do after my career."