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Mark Cavendish: Comeback from Six Day crash pales in comparison to mental health

The Manx Missile suffered three broken ribs and a punctured lung in the crash at the Ghent Six Day

Mark Cavendish has given a typically frank interview comparing his current recovery from a crash at the Ghent Six Day to coming back from mental health struggles and Epstein Barr virus.

The 36-year-old, who this year equalled Eddy Merckx's Tour de France stage wins record, said recovering from crashes "pales in comparison" to mental health.

Speaking to Nihal Arthanayake on BBC Radio 5 Live, Cavendish said his first instinct was to make sure his wife and children, who were watching the Ghent Six day when he crashed, know he was alright.

> Mark Cavendish reveals ‘hole behind heart’ after serious crash in Belgium

"They’ve been with me while I dealt with depression," Cavendish said. "And I tell you, if they can deal with me. If you can deal with a parent or family member, or someone close to you going through mental health struggles, then I think most things pale in comparison to that.

"I had Epstein Barr virus previous, and I couldn’t be a dad, couldn’t climb the stairs, I was tired going upstairs so I definitely couldn’t do my job, I definitely couldn’t be a father.

"But then, a change of personality, not even a change of personality, a completely different personality, when you deal with mental health problems. If, as a family, they can deal with that they can deal with a little crash here and there."

Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team boss Patrick Lefevere this week confirmed the sprinter would be staying with the team for another season, and Cavendish does not expect his Six Day injuries to delay his 2022 preparations by more than a week or two.

Cavendish suffered three broken ribs and a collapsed lung in the fall at 'T Kuipke after Danish world champion Lasse Norman Hansen came down due to water on the track.

However, the Manx Missile said it all seems fairly insignificant compared to mental health recovery, something he now wants to use his platform to promote.

"It’s quite a strange thing because I’m quite passionate about talking about mental health struggles," Cavendish continued. "Because before I had them I was one of the people that just thought it was an excuse, that it didn’t exist, that people were just looking for attention.

"So it’s almost karma that I struggled and it’s why I’m so passionate now about talking about it.

"If I didn’t think it was real, I’m not the only one in the world who doesn’t think it’s real. If I can have the problems that I had, it can happen to anyone. People who dismiss it, don’t just not help someone who’s struggling. It’s actually a detriment. It’s important to take it seriously."

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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