Dutch cycling star van Vleuten crashes

·3-min read

Annemiek van Vleuten is a doubt for Saturday's world championships road race after the Dutch rider sustained an elbow fracture in a crash in the team time trial mixed relay event.

The Olympic and world champion, one of the biggest names at the Wollongong road worlds, was taken to hospital after the crash.

She 39-year-old subsequently tweeted: "Back from hospital Wollongong... Stable fracture elbow, no surgery needed. I am allowed to ride my bike, but depends on pain and need to be sensible. Hope I can sleep"

The 39-year-old was unsure about what caused the crash in the mixed team relay.

Her crash completely overshadowed the event, where Australia won bronze behind gold medallists Switzerland and Italy.

The three Dutch men had handed over to van Vleuten and their other two women when she suddenly lost control barely metres away from the start ramp and hit the ground.

"All bruised and especially worried about my right elbow/arm," she tweeted.

"Don't know what happened ... I got out of balance, but what ever caused it: it will not help or change my situation. Now in the hospital."

Apart from her extensive success in the sport, van Vleuten is renowned as one of its toughest and durable competitors.

She returned to racing only a month after a horrific crash in the road race at the Rio Olympics.

The Australian team were in the hotseat as race leaders when van Vleuten crashed and TV vision showed them reacting with horror to the incident.

"I was pretty shocked - Annemiek has been my teammate and (Sarah) Roy's teammate," said BikeExchange-Jayco rider Alex Manly.

"She's had some really bad luck and she's a phenomenal bike rider.

"She's a really good friend of mine and I hope she's okay."

Manly, Roy and Georgia Baker combined with Luke Durbridge, Simon Matthews and Luke Plapp to set the fastest time for much of the event.

The three men rode the first lap and then handed over to the women for a total of 28.2km.

Australia clocked 35 minutes 47.17 seconds, but were the sixth of 16 starters and all the other top nations were at the end of the order.

First Switzerland beat Australia's time with 33:47.17 and then Italy just failed to snatch away the gold with 33:50.09, falling short by just 2.92 seconds.

"It was really special ... we're really happy coming away with the bronze," Durbridge said.

The powerful Dutch team still managed fifth despite van Vleuten's crash.

Teammate Ellen van Dijk, who won gold on Sunday in the individual time trial, said the crash looked "really nasty".

Van Dijk is van Vleuten's roommate at the worlds.

"If anyone can bounce back, it's Annemiek," she said.

The Dutch, as always, will have the strongest team on Saturday in the women's road race.

Van Dijk was asked how the Dutch would readjust if van Vleuten is restricted by her injuries or cannot start.

"We have lots of options, so don't you worry," she said.

Italian star Filippo Ganna, who returns to Europe first thing on Thursday morning to prepare for his attempt on the hour record, was unhappy about his ride.

Asked about Wednesday's performance, Ganna said he had "a shit day".

Australian star Grace Brown, who won silver in the time trial, did not start as she focusses on Saturday.

Conditions were cold, overcast and windy but there was no rain.

Australia now has a silver and two bronze at the worlds.