Former world champ back on bike despite accident

2013-08-23 00:00

AN accident in the Swiss Alps that left Stephan Mangelsdorff with 40 broken bones, a stopped heart, a collapsed lung and in a coma has not prevented him from cycling.

The German, a former world champion in the 50-54 downhill category, said it was a miracle he could walk again, let alone cycle, ahead of the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships.

“I should be in a wheelchair. It’s a miracle I did not die. There must have been some angels having a picnic because there was not just one,” he told The Witness with a laugh.

The accident happened last year while he was cycling in the Alps.

“I was free riding in the Alps. I had stopped my bike and as I put my foot down, part of the trail broke and I fell about 15 metres down a rocky cliff,” he said.

In hospital, he had to be put into a medically induced coma, as one of his lungs collapsed and his heart stopped beating.

But, despite the accident, he was determined to get back on a mountain bike.

“It was not a cycling crash. I was not cycling, I was standing. So cycling is safer. I did not want to give up cycling after this accident. I don’t want this accident to rule who I am,” said Mangelsdorff.

But, despite being a former world champion, he felt that due to the injuries he suffered, winning again was not on the cards.

“I cannot win this. Maybe the Slovenian guy can because I have given him some instructions on what to do,” he added.

Slovenian Gorazd Strazisar was confident about his chances of a podium finish, despite not knowing who he would be up against.

“I haven’t seen any of the competition. But I am confident. I am enjoying being here. It’s a lot of fun. I get to meet a lot of people, and we’re like a big family,” Strazisar told The Witness.

According to “The Slovenian”, the track was physical and exhausting.

“There are a lot of jumps and it is a bit heavy. In Europe, there are a lot of roots because we race in the forest. It’s very flat over here and you can reach very fast speeds,” he said.

Michael Krueger and Matthias Reich­mann, both from Germany, were also impressed with the track, which they described as physical and fast.

“The track is awesome. It’s quite fun and faster than the tracks back home,” the 50-54 downhill category competitors said.

Reichmann said that after having had four runs on Wednesday and three yesterday, he planned to put in one more before serious competition started.

Competition at the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships will begin today with cross-country in the morning and downhill racing from 2 pm to 5 pm.

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