The most dominant rider of the 2020 season, Annemiek van Vleuten, and her Mitchelton-Scott team-mate Amanda Spratt have abandoned the Giro Rosa after crashing in the finale of stage seven.
If ever a world title defence seemed certain, it was this year. Annemiek van Vleuten has had the kind of form and determination that has made her as close to ‘unbeatable’ as you can get in cycling. And yet, despite her domination of the season so far, she won’t be able to defend her world championship title next week.
A crash inside the final 3km of stage seven of the Giro Rosa – which she won last year, and was leading at the time of the accident – has ended her campaign for another rainbow jersey.
“I’m super sad it’s not possible to defend the maglia rosa,” she is quoted as saying in a release from her team, “but even more: no worlds on a course that suits me.
“I’m disappointed that I cannot defend my world champion’s jersey.”
The winner of stage two and race leader for six days, van Vleuten did finish the stage but scans later confirmed the extent of her injury.
“I felt immediately it was not good with my wrist,” she says in the statement from the team issued a few hours after the stage. “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.”
Spratt, who was 13th on GC after seven stages (with two yet to be contested), didn’t break any bones but she too has abandoned the Giro Rosa because of injuries sustained in the crash. According to the team, Spratt “suffered a heavy hit to her right shoulder and head and was later diagnosed with concussion”.
“Right now my biggest feeling is just disappointment,” said Spratt, “not just for me but for Vleuty and the whole team. Our Giro was going perfectly, and it all fell apart in one instant.”
Spratt is still expected to contest the relocated 2020 world championships, now in Imola, Italy. But the road race winner of 2019 will be watching from afar all because of an incident that happened in front of the Giro leader.
“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.”