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Kidnapped triathlete freed 'after complimenting captor on his orchids'

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An image of Kumberg in the Graz region where the Austrian cyclist lives
An image of Kumberg in the Graz region where the Austrian cyclist lives -
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Associated Press
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An Austrian triathlete said she was hit, beaten, tied up and taken to an unknown house after being hit by a car while cycling.

Nathalie Birli, 27, said in a Facebook post that she was able to "free herself" after an experience that was "like a bad movie".

A 33-year-old man was arrested by Austrian authorities in connection with the alleged kidnapping, said Fritz Grundnig, Graz, Austria's chief police inspector.

"As it turned out later, the woman had been hit by a car at an accident site, had been tied up with insulating tape, had been taken to an unknown house and had been held there for several hours," Grundnig said.

The woman told Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung about her harrowing experience that started when she was hit by a red van while cycling.

She said in the interview that he later tied to a chair while naked, then blindfolded her and tried to suffocate her. At one point, he forced her to climb into a bathtub.

She said he eventually let her go after she complimented him on his orchids and he opened up about his family.

Birli wrote on her personal Facebook page that she was well aside from a "broken arm and a head injury".

Tausend Dank an alle, die mich gestern gesucht haben 🤗 ihr hättet mich nicht finden können. Ich wurde angefahren,...

Publiée par Nathalie Birli sur Mardi 23 juillet 2019