The founder of Phones 4u was left fighting for his life after he was involved in a horror crash while on holiday in Italy.

John Caudwell, 68, said he needed a number of operations after he broke 11 bones in the freak accident.

The business tycoon was airlifted to hospital in Florence after the front tyre of his bicycle exploded while he was riding down a mountain at 25mph.

He was then rushed to a hospital, where staff did not speak any English, and received treatment for a punctured lung, broken collarbone, shattered shoulder blade and six broken ribs.

Mr Caudwell told The Sun he was thankful he was wearing a helmet - which he credits with saving his life.

He had to undergo a number of operations (

Image:

John Caudwell/Instagram)

He said: "I'm 99 per cent certain that if I hadn't been wearing a helmet I would have paid with my life.

"The accident came out of nowhere. I was on my first downhill bend of the ride and my front tyre exploded, sending me crashing to the ground.

"I knew I'd done something serious as I couldn't breathe and I was in agony in my shoulder and rib cage."

The front tyre of the bicycle exploded as he made his way down the mountain (

Image:

John Caudwell/Instagram)

The Phones 4u founder said he had just climbed one of the mountains and was making his way back down at the time of the accident.

He had rounded the first bend when the tyre exploded, sending him crashing to the ground.

Luckily, a passer-by saw and called an ambulance while he "sat on the roadside barely conscious".

Despite the crash, Mr Caudwell was able to call his partner, Modesta Vzasniauskaite, a road racing cyclist from Lithuania.

John Caudwell in hospital (

Image:

John Caudwell/Instagram)

He then had to stay in an emergency medical facility for five days, which he said was "agonising."

While in hospital, Mr Caudwell says he was put on a Covid ward where he was treated by nurses wearing hazmat suits who did not speak English.

He was also not allowed to see his family due to coronavirus restrictions placed around visiting.

He told the Sun: "It was terrifying having these people in hazmat suits appear every few hours and try to move all of my limbs. There was nothing I could do to stop it, even though I knew they shouldn't do it. We had a battle to move me."

John Caudwell and his partner, Modesta Vzesniauskaite (

Image:

LightRocket via Getty Images)

Mr Caudwell said he was in so much pain he didn't have the energy to argue, calling his time in hospital "the most horrendous week of my life".

He has since been transferred to a hospital closer to his home in Monaco.

Doctors recently put a plate into his collarbone, he said.

He is now recovering (

Image:

John Caudwell/Instagram)

Describing his recovery as a "long road ahead", Mr Caudwell said he was grateful to know what is going on around him.

He added: "The hardest bit in a way is not being able to lead my charity bike ride this year because I really love helping others."

Mr Caudwell said he will be cheering on those taking part in his annual Caudwell Children charity fundraiser on September 24 from his wheelchair.

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