Van Vleuten crashed with 96km to go but picked herself up and managed to play a significant part in the rest of the road race. She set up her teammate van der Breggen's attack at the 40 kilometre mark, and even attacked from the peloton to finish seventh, seven minutes and five seconds down on the new world champion.
Knowing that she was hampered by her knee injury, Van Vleuten said she made her attack on the second ascent of the Igls climb to help van der Breggen.
"When I attacked on the climb I was at 90 per cent and I perhaps underestimated myself," she said post-race. "I think I gave Anna a perfect lead-out and she profited extremely well from it," she explained.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider revealed the extent of her injuries once she had been to the hospital after the race, with scans showing a fracture to the top of her tibia.
Van Vleuten also hit out at speculation in the Dutch press that she and van der Breggen would not ride cooperatively during the race and saw each other as rivals for the world championships.
"There was a lot of talk about our team tactics and if we would ride together as a team but I think we rode very well," she said. "I'm very happy for her and very disappointed for myself but I know that only one can win, not two."
"I think everyone in the media should shut their mouths now. There was a lot written but they should read it back to themselves.
"We rode a perfect race. Only one can win and Anna won. We did well as the Netherlands, so I'm proud."
The injury will likely bring an end to van Vleuten's season, with the Dutchwomen sitting second on the Womens WorldTour rankings.