RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Annemiek van Vleuten suffered a concussion and three fractures to her spine in a high-speed crash as she was leading the women’s road race at the Rio Olympics on Sunday. The 33-year-old Dutchwoman skidded on a sharp right-hand bend and flipped forward over her handlebars, plunging head-first into the road and curb.
Initial TV images showed Van Vleuten motionless after the fall, which came on the final descent of the 137-kilometer race.
But Dutch chef de mission Maurits Hendriks gave a positive update on her status not long after the conclusion of the race, won by van Vleuten’s Dutch teammate Anna van der Breggen.
“She’s in the ambulance and fully conscious,” Hendriks said of van Vleuten.
The Royal Dutch Cycling Federation clarified van Vleuten’s situation via Twitter Sunday evening, noting that she sustained a concussion and three small fractures in her lower back, but was conscious at the hospital. She will remain in intensive care for further examination for at least 24 hours.
Van Vleuten’s crash happened on the Vista Chinesa, the same descent where the leaders of the men’s race wiped out on Saturday, with Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali suffering a broken collarbone and Colombia’s Sergio Henao breaking his pelvis. Australia’s Richie Porte broke a shoulder blade on the same section of the
course earlier in the men’s race as well.