Annemiek van Vleuten remains in hospital but has escaped any further injuries following her horror crash during Sunday's Olympic women's road race, an MRI scan has revealed. Van Vleuten suffered concussion and three spinal fractures as a result of the crash, but tests gave her some shred of good news.
"She's recovering well. An MRI scan has shown that there is no further injury. The most important thing is that absolute rest is necessary at this time," Dutch team doctor Cees Rein said on the Dutch Cycling Federation website.
The brief statement also said that van Vleuten would remain in hospital for the foreseeable future.
Van Vleuten crashed heavily on the descent from the Vista Chinesa, going over her handlebars and landing head first in a deep gutter at the side of the road. She had been in the lead of the race after breaking clear on the ascent with USA's Mara Abbott. The pair had gone over the top together, but van Vleuten quickly dropped her companion and appeared to be en route to Olympic gold when she crashed.
The image of van Vleuten lying motionless on the road had many fearing the worst and even her teammate Anna van der Breggen didn't know her condition as she crossed the line to secure gold for the Netherlands. The Dutch federation was quick to assure people after the race that van Vleuten was conscious and on her way to hospital. She allayed concerns later with a Tweet, her relief mixed with disappointment.
"I am now in the hospital with some injuries and fractures, but will be fine. Most of all super disappointed after best race of my career," she wrote.
Her incident, coupled with the many in the men's event, has led some to criticise the descent for being too dangerous. The organisers and the UCI have defended the route, saying that it had been 'extensively tested' in the run-up to the event. The point at which van Vleuten crashed was the same as Geraint Thomas had the day before in the men's road race, but the Welshman escaped without serious injury. Other fallers on the descent in the men’s event included Vincenzo Nibali, Sergio Henao and Richie Porte, who all ended up with broken bones.
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