Olympic, world champion crashes at road cycling championship

Dutch cycling star Annemiek van Vleuten crashed heavily at the start of her ride in the mixed team relay at the world road cycling championships on Wednesday.

Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands in action. (File Photo)

Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands in action. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Dutch cycling star Annemiek van Vleuten crashed heavily at the start of her ride in the mixed team relay at the world road cycling championships on Wednesday.

Dutch cycling star Annemiek van Vleuten crashed heavily at the start of her ride in the mixed team relay at the world road cycling championships on Wednesday.

The Olympic and world champion, one of the biggest names at the Wollongong worlds, had a mechanical problem at the start of her ride.

Her crash overshadowed the mixed team relay, where Switzerland won gold, Italy the silver and Australia the bronze.

Van Vleuten was second in the Dutch women’s pace line, only a few meters after setting off from the start ramp, when she lost control and hit the ground heavily. The Dutch ace was in shock and her right knee was bloodied as team staff rushed to her aid.

Van Vleuten was limping noticeably as she walked away from the crash scene.

It was unclear whether van Vleuten will start in Saturday’s road race, where she is one of the favorites. Even without van Vleuten, the powerful Dutch combination managed fifth place.

Three women and three men were part of each team in the relay on the 28.2-kilometer course. The Swiss, among the last teams to start, clocked 33 minutes, 47.17 seconds. Italy was 2.92 seconds behind.

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