South Devon teenager Lauren Dolan emerged as one of the stars of the World Road Race Championships in Norway – and she didn’t even win a medal.
The images of the injuries to Dolan’s bloodied right leg went viral after she crashed during the Junior Women’s Time Trial.
She remounted on a replacement bike and somehow managed to finish only a minute and 40 seconds slower than the bronze medallist.
Dolan, from Bickington, near Newton Abbot, was taken to hospital in Bergen where doctors gave her a general anaesthetic before taking two hours to clean her wounds, insert 18 stitches in two deep gashes and treat extensive road-rash.
Her bravery astonished everyone at the event, and at home, and she is probably better known now than if she had won the gold medal.
It all happened the day before her 18th birthday, and the Millfield School student was putting in a great ride in pouring rain when she hit a hidden drain cover in a tunnel halfway round the 16-kilometre course.
Dolan, who started her career with the Mid-Devon CC and now rides for the Gloucestershire-based Liv CC-Epic Coaching squad, had been one of the first riders away, but must have stood a good chance of a medal.
Her dad Mark, who was a junior GB international himself, reported that Lauren had been 42 seconds up on team-mate Pfeiffer Georgi, who eventually finished seventh, at the first time-check.
Georgi clocked 24.42.31 to Dolan’s 25.43.16, which was completed on a road bike after her TT machine was damaged in the accident.
Italian Elena Pirrone won in 23.29.72, ahead of her compatriot Alessa Vigilia, just over six seconds slower, with Australia’s Madeleine Fasnacht third in 24.02.04.
“I was devastated, and I still am,” said Lauren, who has spent the last few days trying to thank all the people who sent messages of support and sympathy.
“But I kept going and made sure that I got to the finish line, and I won’t forget my 18th birthday for a long time, that’s for sure.”
Dolan had been due to ride in Friday’s Junior Women’s Road Race as well, but that was out of the question.