Downhill mountain biking, by its very nature, is an extreme sport. Riders hurtle over rocks, thread narrow gaps between trees and drop cliffs – all at speeds of up to 50kph.
But while the Downhill World Cup in Meribel has seen its fair share of crashes, it was in the far more sedate discipline of Cross Country Eliminator (which is often contested alongside DH at World Cups) where tragedy struck this weekend.
Yesterday morning Annefleur Kalvenhaar, a young Dutch rider, crashed off a wooden bridge in qualifying, landing heavily on her head.
“The crash appears to have been a freak accident.”
The bridge in question, which is part of the course only when the XC races are on, has been used by riders and spectators safely all weekend and the crash appears to have been a freak accident.
An ambulance arrived on the scene in seconds all sirens blazing, and minutes later the she was in a helicopter on her way to hospital in Grenoble.
Speaking to the event director Christophe Mugnier last night, we were told that her life was hanging “in the balance”. But despite the best efforts of surgeons in Grenoble, Annefleur died this morning.
At only 20 years old, Annefleur had a promising career ahead of her, having competed successfully in both in Cyclocross and Cross Country.
In an official statement released by the UCI, cycling’s governing body, their president Brian Cookson said: “I’m devastated to hear that the cycling family has lost one of its members at such a young age. Our deepest thoughts are with her family and friends.”