Annemiek van Vleuten’s hopes of defending her world title are over after she was forced to withdraw from the Giro Rosa with a broken wrist sustained at the end of stage seven in Maddolini.
Van Vleuten, who will now return to her native Netherlands for surgery, was due to defend her world title at next week’s UCI Road World Championships in Imola. She won the rainbow jersey in Yorkshire last year.
The Dutchwoman was caught in a crash with the former world champion Marianne Vos in the final kilometre of Thursday’s 112.5km stage, which was won by Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, ahead of Britian’s Lizzie Deignan in second.
Van Vleuten and her Mitchelton-Scott teammate Amanda Spratt were both taken to hospital for scans. Van Vleuten’s showed a fracture which will need surgery, while Spratt has an injured shoulder and concussion and the Australian has also withdrawn from the race.
“I was in a good position just going safe to the finish,” said Van Vleuten. “It was a good day for us, I was never in trouble, we were in control. I was having fun on the bike until the last 500 metres when the girls crashed in front of me and I couldn’t avoid them.
“I felt immediately it was not good with my wrist because I saw that my wrist was not straight, so I knew straight away that was not good. I will go home now and I will have an operation on my wrist on Saturday. I’m super sad it’s not possible to defend the maglia rosa, but even more, no worlds on a course that suits me. I’m disappointed that I cannot defend my world champion’s jersey.”
Spratt added: “Right now my biggest feeling is just disappointment, not just for me but for Vleuty and the whole team. Our Giro was going perfectly and it all fell apart in one instant. I think I am lucky I don’t have a broken bone but the shoulder is very painful still and with a concussion I have to take it easy now. I hope to recover as quick as possible and be back racing soon. Thanks to the team for the incredible support.”
Van Vleuten had been in the race leader’s pink jersey at the Giro after her storming victory on stage two, but the Pole Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon–SRAM now takes over at the top of the standings.