She looked dead, SA cyclist says of Dutch rider hurt in Olympic crash

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio thought former teammate Annemiek van Vleuten was dead when she rode past the Dutch cyclist as she lay motionless after crashing in the women’s road race in Rio on Sunday. 

Van Vleuten was leading the 136.9km race with 10km to go when she lost control as her back wheel slid slightly while negotiating a corner at high speed. 

She then went over the handle bars onto the pavement and ended up draped over the curb like a rag doll. 

Van Vleuten reportedly suffered three small fractures in her back as well as concussion. 

“That was really quite a shock, I mean when I went past her she looked dead,” said Moolman-Pasio, who ended 10th. 

“I’m just really grateful to hear she’s conscious because it looked like her neck was solidly broken, so I really hope that she’s okay. 

“She was a teammate last year and it was quite shocking to see that.”

Moolman-Pasio, well supported by An-Li Kachelhoffer, was disappointed she had not succeeded in making the podium. 

But they were up against several teams with up to four riders each.

“It was a tough day, very tactical. I suppose if we’d had more teammates it would have helped. 

“There were some moments in the race where I was a little bit isolated and made me put in too much in the wind, a bit nervous of breakaways going up the road. 

“But I gave it everything and An-Li gave everthing as well, she did her best to support me. 

“I got to the bottom of the [last] climb with a good chance, in the mix and I just didn’t have what it took to be up there at the very end but, ja, happy with a top 10, disappointed not to have a medal.”

Moolman-Pasio will have another chance for silverware in the individual time trial on Wednesday. 

“There’s a fair amount of climbing in the race so I will do my best to use the climbing to my advantage and just to give it my all.

“It’s a tough course so there is a chance to go for a medal. 

“I’m going to have to pick myself up a little bit —  I must admit I am disappointed, but I’ll give it my all on Wednesday again.”

Moolman-Pasio believes more of an effort needs to be made to develop women’s road cycling in South Africa.

“We do need to develop a bit more depth in our cycling. 

“We need more girls coming over and spending a majority of the year in Europe like I am, gaining experience, because that’s the only way to move forward. 

“More effort or money needs to go into building up a base for South African girls to come over in a protected environment to gain experience.”