Ironman star Yvonne van Vlerken suffered a broken right collarbone when she was hit by a car turning into the street in front of her and crashed into the pavement while visiting her home in the Netherlands.
Van Vlerken was on a long bike training ride near her home town of Krimpen aan de Lek in the Gouda region on roads which pass some of Holland’s famous dikes when she braked hard but was unable to avoid a severe impact with the car.
“It was a scary moment when I saw the car and realized I cannot brake in time,” van Vlerken said in a media release. “I fell with full force on my right shoulder.”
Van Vlerken added, “Accidents can always happen and of course it’s a shame. But I am like everyone knows a very positive person and I will get the best out of this situation.”
She was transported to her residence in Voralberg, Austria where she underwent successful surgery by surgeon Dr. Christian Schenk. Dr. Schenk stabilized the multiple lateral clavicula fracture with a hook plate and gave the Dutch triathlon star a favorable prognosis. Van Vlerken has already begun mobilization and range of movement exercises, and in two weeks plans to resume normal swim, bike and run training.
“I am in the best hands possible and have started training, even it is a little ‘alternative,’” she said. “I am a little fighter and will do everything possible to be back as fast as possible. I will use this time off to develop mentally and, after the pain in the last few days, an Ironman will probably never hurt the same again.”
Van Vlerken says she will miss scheduled races in Cannes on April 13 and at Challenge Fuerteventura on April 26 but plans to resume her season schedule at Challenge Rimini on May 11. She says she has already qualified for the Ironman World Championship and the incident will not affect her planned peak races at Roth and Kona.
At age 36, Van Vlerken has made a stellar competitive record. Her six sub-9 hour Ironman distance performances stand second only to Chrissie Wellington’s 9. Van Vlerken’s fastest time at the distance was set at Ironman Florida last November -- 8:43:07 -- the 10th fastest women’s Ironman distance time in history. Van Vlerken’s 4:35:49 bike split in that 2013 race is the second-fastest women’s bike split at the Ironman distance – just 20 seconds slower that Caroline Steffen’s world best Ironman-distance bike split set at Melbourne in 2012.
Van Vlerken is coming off a 4th place last October at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Her best finish place at Kona is 2nd to Chrissie Wellington in 2008, and she also won the 2006 ITU Long Distance Duathlon World Championship.