In a horrific turn of events, Olympic gold medallist Annemiek van Vleuten suffered a massive crash in the opening seconds of the mixed team time trial during Road World Championships in Wollongong in Australia on September 21 (Wednesday). A moment after coming down for the start ramp, top-seeded Vleuten smashed into the barriers.
The cyclist was left in a crumpled heap on the floor as her hands were on her helmet in shock as Van Dijk and Riejanne Markus cruised ahead in the race. The crash was perfectly described by Rob Hatch on Eurosport commentary who termed the crash as a 'disaster.' "The Dutch doomed from the start. Dear, oh dear, oh dear. What on earth happened there?" stated Hatch.
The dreadful incident caused much more damage than just results as the 39-year-old had a small fracture in her elbow, casting doubts over her participation in Saturday's road race.
Following the crash, the Dutch cyclist expressed her shock over the incident via her social media post as she wrote, "whatever caused it: it will not help or change my situation. Now in the hospital," on Twitter.
She further informed that her tires exploded after she hit the side road. However, Vleuten further informed that she suffered a minor fracture on her elbow and needed surgery. "I am allowed to ride my bike but depends on pain and needs to be sensible. Hope I can sleep. At least I can already laugh about this picture," she tweeted.
Markus and Van Dijk regrouped to finish a commendable fifth which was regarded as an impressive result considering they had only four riders against their rivals' six for all but three minutes of the race.
The 2019 Road World Championships winner arrived as a huge favourite for the mixed team trial after Van Vleuten convinced Mathieu van de Poel to join her in the Netherlands squad.