Van Vleuten sustains spinal injuries after horror Rio crash

Posted on: August 7th, 2016

A sickening crash has left Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten in a Rio hospital. She was descending the final climb of the day some 10 kilometres from the finish when she over-cooked a bend and suffered a dreadful fall.


Dutch media outlets are reporting that Annemiek van Vleuten has suffered three cracked vertebrae and will spend the next 24 hours in intensive care following her horrific crash in the women’s road race at the Olympic Games in Rio.

She was in a gold medal-winning position when she crashed at high speed on a sharp descent and TV footage showed her motionless on the ground.

She was later passed by several riders on their way to contest the finish, with her teammate Anna van der Breggen taking the gold medal with a last-gasp sprint.

After the contest had concluded the Dutch Cycling Federation took to Twitter to confirm Van Vleuten “appeared to be OK”.

The Netherlands’ chef de mission, Maurits Hendriks, said she was “conscious and on her way to hospital”.

However, she has not escaped serious injury and the word from the Dutch came is that she has suffered three fractures to her lumbar spine and heavy concussion.

A Dutch Olympic Committee official described the injuries as: “Three small fractures in her spine, a heavy concussion and she has to stay on the intensive care overnight.”

The UCI said after the race: “Ms van Vleuten is conscious, able to communicate. Further medical checks currently being made at the hospital.”


Holland’s Van der Breggen wins from Sweden’s Johansson and Italy’s Longo Borghini (Photo: Sirotti)


Former Olympic track champion Chris Boardman, whose mother was killed recently in a crash out cycling, was visibly shocked while commentating at the end of the event.

“I’m actually quite angry about it because I looked at the road furniture and thought: ‘Nobody can crash here and get up.’

“This was way past technical, this was dangerous, and it means people who designed the course have seen it and left it.

“I’m angry about it because I went down there and had a look at the course and saw those edges. We knew this was way past this being a technical, this was dangerous.”


Lost gold medal-winning chance

Van Vleuten (33), like Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) and Sergio Henao (Colombia) in Saturday’s men’s race, was in a potentially gold-medal winning position when she fell on the same treacherous descent of the final climb.

Ireland’s Dan Martin was very critical of the dangerous descent after the men’s race, saying had it been raining things could have gone very badly wrong for a huge number of riders.

Van Vleuten overshot a right hand sweep and after initially skidding towards the opposite side of the road she appeared to lock her front wheel.

She then tumbled over the handlebars and came down very hard on her head on a concrete open drain at the side of the road.

She lay completely motionless as the TV cameras went past her, with many people fearing the worst.

She was leading the race solo by about 30 seconds from Mara Abbott; the American rider then pressing on at the head of affairs and only being caught well inside the final 500 metres by a group of three who took the medals.

Van der Breggen won gold from Sweden’s Emma Johansson and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini, who towed the other two across the last portion of the gap to Abbott. There were no Irish riders in the race.

More information when we have it.