Unlike footballers, these riders are hard as nails – Speedway World with Richard Hudson

Big crash
Big crash

Hard as nails. That’s the only way you can describe speedway riders who take fearful-looking tumbles only to walk away, jump back on their bikes and race at full-tilt once again.

Most speedway supporters have tales to tell of such bravery and their heroes ‘riding through the pain barrier’.

Eastbourne Lifestyle Eagles’ new boy Mikkel Michelsen is the latest to demonstrate that speedway riders are a breed apart (unlike footballers who fall over and writhe around in fake agony in a bid to con some advantage).

Michelsen was involved in the long drawn out* heat one of the Eagles v Peterborough match at Arlington on Saturday; the second part of the double header.

The race started at 9.15pm and at once the visitors’ Ryan Fisher was excluded for breaking the tapes.

In came reserve Patrick Hougaard as a replacement. His race lasted less than a lap as he tumbled on the apex of bends three and four.

Race stopped and Hougaard too was excluded.

In the re-run Michelsen, Kenneth Bjerre and Bjarne Pedersen appeared to become hooked together and ran as if on rails straight into the fence on turn one.

Pedersen disappeared under the air fence and was hidden from view while Bjerre and Michelsen were a tangle of men and machines.

Home fans feared the worst when Michelsen eventually left the track with his arm in a sling.

Eastbourne co-promoter and team manager Trevor Geer said: “Mikkel thought he might have broken his wrist after that nasty smash.

“The paramedics checked him over and he could move everything.

“So despite it hurting like hell he said ‘let’s give it a go’.”

And he did more than give it a go. Michelsen came out for the re-run and swept away from the tapes with Pedersen for a 5-1 heat win.

In fact, the Eagles’ 19-year-old was more impressive after his horrendous smash than he was in the earlier match against Birmingham.

Tough, yes – and some.

*The chequered flag finally fell on heat one at 9.42pm.

Above: Bjarne Pedersen (red helmet), Mikkel Michelsen (blue) and Kenneth Bjerre disappearing out of shot after a frightening first bend crash at Arlington.