2006 was a year of enormous disappointment for Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, even after her victory in the Tour of Flanders in early April.
In a hospital at Veldhoven, doctors diagnosed a vasoconstriction in the left leg of the Moergestel resident. She underwent an operation in early June and started her rehabilitation with an eye toward the world championships in Salzburg.
In the preparation for the worlds, Melchers started the Euregio Ladies Tour without ambitions. Her fitness was improving and positive feelings were returning until she crashed badly in stage three. She broke her hip, pelvis, and jaw.
"I still know everything from the crash, I had consciousness. But fortunately all the annoying memories are gradually disappearing a little," said Melchers
In the beginning, Melchers gave herself no option to quit the sport, but during the recovery period, she focused in stead on progress. To ride at an elite level was not her first priority. "First I had to go back to basic, to normal functioning to daily things without feeling any pain. I have thought about a lot of things, and you start to realize that there is much more then only cycling. At certain moments during the recovery process and the rehabilitation, I have thought about quitting. It was certainly not a normal crash, but due to the fact that I can and want to speak about it, I have decided to go on."
Now after three months, things are going well again. She does not know for sure if she will continue her career, but according to her husband and manager, Jean-Paul van Poppel, she is motivated to make a comeback.
On January 26, Melchers will undergo another operation on her jaw in the University Hospital of Aachen. On January 10, doctors will decide if they can remove the screws in her pelvis as well during the same operation.