Olympic Games: Van Vleuten released from hospital set to travel home on Friday

'I was hoping to surprise everyone. I was so close,' says Dutch rider

Annemiek van Vleuten announced Tuesday on her personal website that she has been released from hospital following a horrifying crash in the women's road race at the Olympic Games. The Dutch rider sustained a concussion and three spinal fractures. She is scheduled to travel home to the Netherlands on Friday.

"Today I can leave the hospital and I will be taken to a hotel nearby. Not to the Olympic village, because I need rest and the idea is that I can recover the best in the hotel. The aim is to fly home Friday and hopefully can. That concussion is the reason that they want to keep me here."

After breaking clear on the final climb of the women's road race on Sunday with USA’s Mara Abbott, Van Vleuten attacked the American on the descent and gained 40 seconds with 10km to go - a strong bid for Olympic gold. But she crashed heavily on the descent from the Vista Chinesa, going over her handlebars and landing in a deep gutter and curb at the side of the road. She she lay motionless for some time before medics arrived and transported her to the hospital.

"I am very happy that the physical injuries are not that bad. But mentally it’s difficult. Especially when I woke up this morning. The first two hours I kept looking back at the race and that’s really hard. For such a long time you work towards a goal and then this is how it ends. It will really take some time to leave that behind. All the sweet messages I’ve got do help me. If I read them, I can look back on a great performance."

She was confirmed to have a concussion and three small fractures to her spine but further MRIs revealed no additional injuries. She is now recovering in a hotel and will await her travels home, pending the status of her concussion.

Read van Vleuten's update here

An update from the hospital in Rio de Janeiro, where I am in good hands. A message with very mixed feelings. Normally I am able to look forward after a disappointment, but now I know there probably won’t be a chance like this anymore. When you are in such good shape and can excel like this, it is very difficult to accept this. I was so close, but gave it away and it was my fault.

On the other hand; I am very proud that I was able to preform like this. I was hoping to surprise everyone, but that I was actually able to attack Abbott, I did not expect. On the Olympics I wanted to excel and that I did. Maybe I discovered a side of myself, which I didn’t even know. That is a motivation for me to continue. I am very proud of this, but it’s hard to accept it ended like this. Of course the ‘what if’- questions plays in my head. I have to do something with that in the processing of this.

I am very happy that the physical injuries are not that bad. But mentally it’s difficult. Especially when I woke up this morning. The first two hours I kept looking back at the race and that’s really hard. For such a long time you work towards a goal and then this is how it ends. It will really take some time to leave that behind. All the sweet messages I’ve got do help me. If I read them, I can look back on a great performance.

The reactions of everyone around me are heart-warming and I’ve had a lot of visits. My Orica-AIS teamies Katrin Garfoot, Gracie Elvin and Amanda Spratt visited me together with team manager Martin Barras and I had a visit of Marianne Vos and Dutch head coach Johan Lammers. But also our team soigneur, the technical director of the KNWU Thorwald Veneberg, chef de mission Maurits Hendriks, NOC*NSF chairman André Bolhuis and UCI president Brian Cookson came by. Cees Rein van den Hoogenband provides medical assistance and there is also a Dutch doctor who lives over here, Frits, who helps me with some translation. Not everyone speaks English.

Today I can leave the hospital and I will be taken to a hotel nearby. Not to the Olympic village, because I need rest and the idea is that I can recover the best in the hotel. The intention is to fly home Friday and hopefully I can. The aim is to fly home Friday and hopefully can. That concussion is the reason that they want to keep me here.

As I said, I had a lot of messages. On the website and social media, but for example also a letter in which almost all the riders in the peloton had left a get well wish. Marianne gave me that. I am very happy with all those messages. But I am not allowed to use my phone a lot and therefore I can’t answer most of them. That’s why I post this message on my website for all everyone. I want to thank you all for the super sweet and warm messages!

Annemiek

Related Articles

Back to top