Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel blamed the removal of a wooden ramp for his heavy fall during the cross-country mountain bike event at the Tokyo Olympics.
While in fifth place in the lead group, the man who wore the yellow jersey at the start of the Tour de France flipped over the handlebars after falling off a rock, and then slid down a slope. He was stunned for a few moments before getting back on his bike.
The Dutchman, who is the nephew of legendary cyclist Raymond Poulidor, finally gave up with one lap to go after losing a lot of ground on the other contestants. He eventually left the race and went to hospital for X-rays on a hip injury.
Netherlands’ Mathieu van der Poel crashes during the cycling mountain bike men’s cross country event
Van der Poel had forgotten about the wooden ramps removal before the start of the race, which lead him to crash and leave the race injured
The Dutch rider crashed very heavily early in the race in front of Pidcock, who went on to win the event
Both Dutch national coach Gerben de Knegt and Van der Poel’s team-mate Milan Vader, who placed 10th, could not explain how the pre-race favourite had not realised the plank would be removed.
After Thomas Pidcock’s final victory, De Knegt gave some insight on the Dutchman’s crash. In training, a wooden board had in fact been placed behind the rocks for the safety of the riders.
However, on the day of the Olympic event, the ramp was removed as planned but Van der Poel seemed to have forgotten about it.
Van der Poel of the Netherlands holds his wrist after crashing on a hill
Van der Poel got up after the crash before leaving the race to go to hospital for X-ray scans
‘It may be hard to say, but we talked about that during lunch today,’ Vader told NOS.
‘Mathieu said: ”Gosh everyone jumps there.” I asked: ”Won’t you, then?” He said, ”No, I’ll roll off that plank,” then I said that they had removed that board at the test event in 2019 for the competition.’
Van der Poel confirmed on Twitter that he was under the impression the plank would be in place during the race.
‘I was not aware of it – that plank was there during the reconnaissance. I only heard that it had been removed at the test event,’ wrote Van der Poel.
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