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The defending World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten is on her way to Italy to race the world championships today and is confident she will be able to race on Saturday.
“Will I ride? Yes or no? Yes, I am riding, I think. I will let you know formally on Friday but my final test yesterday was really reassuring,” she told Dutch broadcaster NOS at the airport of Amsterdam.
Van Vleuten crashed in the eighth stage of the Giro Rosa less than a week ago. The Dutch rider broke her wrist and abandoned the Giro in the pink leader’s jersey. A week before she was due to defend her title the World Championships seemed impossible but she didn’t want to rule it out just yet. She had surgery in the Netherlands and was fitted with a brace to stabilise the fracture.
“I did some tests earlier this week. Yesterday I did some tests on the Posbank [a steep climb not far from her home]. That was very promising. I am not at a 100% when it comes to pulling at my handlebars [when climbing]. Sudden, intense attacks were not possible yesterday but when I look at how soon I recover, this might be better already on Saturday.”
Van Vleuten has a given spot at the road world championships. This means only she as a defending champion can fill that spot.
“This is one of the reasons I can do this. I could have given my place to another rider but this spot is only for me. I can’t give it to someone else. In the time trial Ellen van Dijk replaces me on a course that suits her. I hope she will do really well. On Saturday I don’t take away anyone’s place so that feels better for me.”
Van Vleuten also earned a podium spot at the time trial in Yorkshire World Championships last year. She took a bronze medal after taking two consecutive world titles in 2017 and 2018. She decided not to try to ride the time trial on Thursday with her wrist brace.
“I considered the time trial because I am riding it alone. I discussed this with my trainer. Doing the road race means I get extra recovery time. At least two days but actually more than that. If I would have done the time trial, I would have had to go to Italy earlier for a recon. Now I had the maximum time to recover. In time trials you also pull at the handlebars at the start and I didn’t see myself at 100% doing that.”