Cyclings world governing body, the UCI, has moved to defend the Olympic cycling course after a series of accidents in both the three men and womens road races in Rio de Janeiro
Cyclings world governing body, the UCI, has moved to defend the Olympic cycling course after a series of accidents in both the three men and womens road races in Rio de Janeiro. The most serious incident left the Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten in hospital with three fissures in her spine and concussion while the Australian cyclist Richie Porte suffered a broken scapula.
The Rio 2016 road race course was carefully designed and was extensively tested at the test event and in train, said the UCI. We do our utmost to design safe, challenging courses but unfortunately accidents do sometimes result due to a combination of factors.
Van Vleuten has tweeted from her hospital bed to say that she is OK but disappointed that the best ride of her career conclude with a horror crash in the final stages of the race. She said she hopes to leave the hospital on Monday.
The 33 -year-old was leading the peloton on the final descent of the 139.6 km race on Sunday when she went over her handlebars and landed headfirst after clipping the same kerb that also objective Geraint Thomass race in the three men competitor on Saturday.
Spectators were frightened when the Dutch woman appeared to not be moving as she lay by the side of the road for several minutes waiting for help. A video posted by a member of the public on Facebook proved her lying motionless as riders passed her down the hill with no immediate sign of medical help.
Early on Monday morning local period Van Vleuten tweeted to say: I am now in the hospital with some traumata and fractures, but will be fine. Most of all super disappointed after best race of my career.
She later added: Still in the hospital. Waiting for some research[ and] hope I can leave today. Knowing that this chance is 1 in four years, doesnt make it easy.
Others were angry on her behalf, with the former Olympic gold medallist, Chris Boardman, indicating the course was simply unsafe.
The Rio Olympic Road Course was excellent, one of, if not the best I have ever seen with all elements covered, he said. Even a descent as technological as that from Vista Chinesa was fantastic but its proximity to the finish line and the award on offer there, meant it was certain athletes would push it to and past the edge of the envelope in pursuit of glory.
Crashes are an inevitable and accepted part of cycling, what is not acceptable is that such in-competition mistakes should carry insure life-threatening consequences.
A 20 cm deep drop off at the edge of the road and sharp concrete edges running uncovered for 99% of the descent at a phase in the race where accidents were going to happen, was not acceptable. It should not have been signed off.
As much as I loved the course including that descent, if these hazards could not be managed – due to either cost or practicalities – then the descent should not have been in the race let alone the final. To reiterate, my fury was not about accidents – which are inevitable and normal – it was the potential for avoidable catastrophe if and when I rider did. The stakes should not be that high to win a motorcycle race.
I hope lessons were learned, this time we got away with it.
Having pulled clear of the American climbing expert Mara Abbott on the descent of the 530 m Vista Chinesa on Sunday afternoon, Van Vleuten was set for the victory of her career, with simply 10 km to the finish. A three-time national Dutch champion, in the 2012 Games she came 14 th when her team-mate Marianne Vos won gold.
Sundays crash was the second serious cycling accident she has suffered in the last 12 months. Precisely a year before the Olympic road race she was hit by a auto while at the teams Livigno training camp in Italy. She suffered multiple broken bones and a collapsed lung.
Coming towards the end of her professional career, she has most recently been riding for the Australian team, Orica. As well as racing she owns Annemiek van Vleuten ProVelo, which organises cycling clinics and presentations.
After Van Vleutens crash, her team-mates waited nervously for news from the hospital. Gracie Elvin, an Australian who rides with her for Orica, said: Shes one of the most positive people on our squad, shes been my greatest fan this year and devoted me lots of confidence. Sometimes shell even come up to me in a race and say: Hey man, youre one of the best here, you could win this race, and I love that about her.
Shes super-tough, she was nearly killed last year when she was hit by a auto She recovered from that and is a really tough lady.
Read more: www.theguardian.com