A fundraising campaign (opens in new tab) for Amy Pieters was launched at the Dutch National Championships on Sunday.
The race took on an extra meaning this year, as 12 months on from her first national title, the SD Worx rider is still recovering from the serious injuries suffered in a crash six months ago.
As a result, the crowdfunding was opened at the start of the women's road race, which aims to help provide the support Pieters needs in her recovery from serious brain injuries.
The Dutch rider crashed after a collision during a national track team training ride on December 23 in Calpe, Spain. She lost consciousness following the fall, and was taken via air ambulance to a hospital in Alicante.
She underwent surgery to relieve pressure on her brain, before being placed in an induced coma, which was later extended. Doctors then transferred Pieters to a hospital in the Netherlands in January, where she remained under supervision for months.
During that time, she went through neurological rehabilitation treatment.
The program, called "Amy Pieters: Champion of hearts", has been set up "to offer Amy as many opportunities as possible to get the most out of herself".
An Instagram post by her team read: "Treatments that Amy can undergo, both in the Netherlands and abroad, are not all reimbursed. Modifications and tools are very expensive.
"We want to offer Amy as many opportunities as possible to get the most out of herself.
"A fund has been set up for Amy so that, partly thanks to donations, she can hopefully make use of all the opportunities that are possible for her. All donations fully benefit the recovery of and by Amy."
Last week, Dutch TV station NOS interviewed her father, who said that there was "progress but she can’t talk and can’t move her right arm and leg".
Pieters spends weekends at home before returning to a recovery centre in the Netherlands during the week.
The SD Worx post said: "Our rider Amy Pieters had just before Christmas an unfortunate crash during a training ride on the bicycle with the Dutch national selection in Spain. She suffered severe brain damage and fell into a coma. In Spain she was immediately operated and we feared for her life. The first weeks have been very difficult for her and her loved ones. But thankfully Amy is still here!
"We are now a few months further and Amy has regained consciousness. The further course of her recovery is still very uncertain. She is working hard on her rehabilitation. Amy can’t speak at the moment, she also still has a loss on the right side of her body, which makes the recovery tough and difficult."
"No matter how hard the treatments are, and how difficult the situation is right now, Amy lives by her own motto #smile to enjoy, and smiles at life again," it continued. "It is not yet possible to predict how long her recovery will take, or how far she can get.
"What we do know is that Amy is a sportswoman at heart. She is combative, positive and never gives up. She has always committed herself and worked hard to achieve her goals. Both individually and in a team. Her effort and struggle now serves a much greater purpose, and she cannot do it alone."
Her SD Worx teammates also posted things on social media. An image of Chantal van den Broek Blaak, Lonneke Uneken and Demi Vollering embracing ahead of the race accompanied the text.
Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Visma) succeeded Pieters as Dutch road champion, beating Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) in the final.
“The announcement of the crowdfunding campaign for Amy Pieters at the start was an emotional moment, but then the switch had to be turned,” Markus told NOS at the finish. “I think a lot about Pieters. Hopefully she’s proud of me.”
Christine Majerus, Pieters' teammate, wrote: "Amy has lots of qualities, but maybe the one I appreciate most over all these years we spent together on the road, was that I could always count on her. Of course as a teammate. A leader you can always be sure she is there for the win but also a rider constantly ready to help others and sacrifice herself for the good of the team.
"But most important as a ever-smiling friend who listens, understands and helps whenever it is possible. Amy is the kind of friend everyone should have."
Donations can be made at AmyPieters.nl. (opens in new tab)
A post shared by Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (@chantalvandenbroekblaak) (opens in new tab)
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