In a race made chaotic by the rain, Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten rode to glory in a thrilling women’s road race at the Road World Championships in Australia on Saturday.
What made the 39-year-old’s gold all the more remarkable was that she competed in the 164.3km race with a fractured elbow after crashing during the mixed relay on Wednesday.
Van Vleuten, the Olympic time trial champion, was favorite before her injury as she had already won the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, Giro d’Italia Donne and Ceratzit Challenge by La Vuelta this season.
She had not featured for much of the race, which finished in Wollongong, but riding through the pain she came from behind and burst into the lead in the final 500m to claim the rainbow jersey for the second time in her illustrious career. Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky took silver, while Italy’s Silvia Persico won bronze.
“I knew that I couldn’t sprint because of my elbow so I knew that I had to attack from behind, that was the only, only, only chance that I had,” the Movistar rider told reporters.
“I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the sprinters to come but they couldn’t catch me.
“It was hell. I couldn’t go out of the saddle because of my elbow and my legs were exploding on the climbs. Normally, I really like to go out of the saddle and attack.
“I had such a different plan before I broke my elbow and now I win it in the last kilometre and I’m world champion.”