After Three Spinal Fractures in Terrifying Crash, Dutch Cyclist Could Be Out of Hospital Today

Annemiek van Vleuten is recovering in a short stay at the hospital after her scary crash.
August 8, 2016, 3:53pm

The scariest moment at the Rio Olympics thus far has not come away from the fields, courts, pools and tracks, as expected. It wasn't some act of terrorism or a collapsed venue. It came on Sunday during the women's cycling road race when Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten took a terrifying tumble on a descent with the gold medal less than seven miles away.

For several minutes, she didn't move and lay there in a crumpled heap on the curb of a tight turn.

She suffered three spinal fractures and a concussion and was rushed to the hospital. But once there, she tweeted out her congratulations to her Dutch teammate, Anna van der Breggen, who overtook the American Mara Abbott in the sprint to the finish line.

Thanks for all the messages! Congrats to @AnnavdBreggen! We were a super strong team today with @ellenvdijk and @marianne_vos. — Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) August 8, 2016

Then she added that she'd be OK.

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.
— Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) August 8, 2016

On Monday, van Vleuten, 33, tweeted that she hoped to leave the hospital by the end of the day.

Still in the hospital. Waiting for some research&hope I can leave today. Knowing that this chance is 1 in 4 years, doesn't make it easy.
— Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) August 8, 2016

But if her stay in the hospital will likely be short, she put quite the scare into her family.

It was her mother Ria's birthday, and the van Vleutens assembled in her living room quickly went from thinking Annemiek would be an Olympic champion to fearing for her life. "Normally, a cyclist always gets up after a fall or reaches for body parts they've hurt," Ria told Dutch tabloid De Telegraaf. "But she just lay there, motionless."

"Annemiek wasn't moving," she continued. "I can't shake the image. I didn't sleep all night. I really thought my daughter lay dead in a ditch."

It was hours before the van Vleutens learned that Annemiek was conscious and would be OK.

Oh, and a year ago to the day, also on her mother's birthday, Annemiek van Vleuten was hit by a car during a training ride and broke three ribs, a collar bone, and suffered a collapsed lung.