The Dutch Cycling Federation have announced that Annemiek van Vleuten will defend her elite women’s road race world title on Saturday after team doctors gave her permission to race just eight days after fracturing her wrist at the Giro Rosa.
Van Vleuten had a metal plate inserted into her wrist during surgery and will ride with a special brace.
"My wrist feels quite good and I can’t complain because, for me, it’s a miracle how it feels," Van Vleuten told Cyclingnews in a phone interview on Thursday evening after travelling to Italy.
“I don’t have pain on the bike and I can grab my handlebars, 100 percent. I don’t have any problems with bike handling and that is something that was important in my decision."
There were concerns that a second crash could cause major complications to her wrist but Van Vleuten denied it could be a problem.
'The doctors told me that if I crashed again, it’s not a problem, and would not damage it more," she said on Thursday.
"It’s a special case, and the reason that I have less pain. They didn't give me a complete anaesthetic. I just had local anaesthetic, and I was conscious through the procedure and it only took 30 minutes.
"They put in a metal plate, which is why it’s stronger than before, which can stay in or come out later. My wrist doesn’t feel great when I wake up, but I can’t complain because I’m not in too much pain and I can handle my bike 100 percent.”
37-year-old Van Vleuten won the world title in Yorkshire with a long solo attack and was leading the Giro Rosa when she crashed on September 17.
It is unclear if she can be competitive on the steep climbs of the Imola circuit when she will have to pull hard on the handlebars but she will now line-up on Saturday for the 143km road race, sharing team leadership with Marianne Vos and Anna Van der Breggen.
Van Vleuten said she didn’t take additional days off the bike due to the crash, with the exception of the one day for surgery. She is feeling strong after competing at the Giro Rosa, and believes that she can carry that strength into the World Championships.
She is confident that if she starts the race, she has a shot at winning the world title again.
"My legs are still there and I have nothing to lose," Van Vleuten said.
"I feel confident and at least I’m happy because I felt like my season was over but it isn’t over."
Van Vleuten has ridden for Mitchelton-Scott for the last five seasons but will move to Movistar in 2021.
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