Annemiek van Vleuten may not be ready to abandon her rainbow jersey without a fight.
Recent reports in Dutch media suggest that van Vleuten could still compete in Saturday’s UCI women’s road race world championships in Imola, Italy, despite her having fractured her wrist just last week.
Van Vleuten crashed during the seventh stage of the Giro Rosa, and following the crash, it seemed her chances at a repeat victory at worlds would be entirely off the table. She was rushed to a hospital and later underwent surgery in the Netherlands to fix the injury.
However, recent reports in Dutch media indicate that as of Tuesday morning, the current road world champion may try to defend her title.
Following the procedure, van Vleuten appeared on the Langs de Lijn radio show on NPO Radio 1 in the Netherlands where she said that her physicians suggested that given the nature of the injury, she might be back on the bike sooner than she thought.
“My doctors think very much in terms of possibilities, I was surprised about that,” she said. “But it’s not a very complicated fracture. I’ll look at it day by day, and do everything I can to recover. I’m in optimal recovery mode, so you never know.”
Then, on Tuesday afternoon, images appeared on social media that seemed to show van Vleuten riding outside with a sizable brace on her left hand.
Although a week at home on the trainer might not have been the recovery van Vleuten was hoping for leading up to worlds, it could be exactly what she needed. Over the weekend, van Vleuten posted a picture of herself riding her home trainer while watching the Tour de France.
On Monday, she was fitted with a brace.
“It went well, I am hopeful,” she told Dutch news outlet NOS. “According to the doctors, it is safe to cycle outside with a brace.”
It’s no secret that Saturday’s course in Imola suits van Vleuten. The women will race five laps of a 28.8 km circuit consisting of short and steep classics-style climbs. There should be plenty of opportunity to attack — a fact not lost on the current champion.
“You don’t have a [parcours] like this every year,” she told NOS. “If the World Cup had been in Qatar now, I wouldn’t have worried about it at all.”