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RIO DE JANEIRO – Annemiek van Vleuten is in intensive care after a horrific crash near the end of the Rio Olympics’ women’s road cycling race on Sunday.
The 33-year-old Dutch cyclist was leading the race with about 12 kilometers left when her back tire appeared to skid out during a descent down the Vista Chinesa. Her bike flipped over along the side of the road; her head hitting the pavement, her back crushing along the curb. The momentum eventually flipped her body again, and she remained motionless with her stomach on the curb.
She was taken to a local hospital where Rio Olympic officials initially said she was in stable condition. The Royal Dutch Cycling Federation tweeted that van Vleuten suffered a “heavy concussion and three small fractures in her lumbar spine.” The federation reported she is conscious and talking.
Sunday night, van Vleuten tweeted from the hospital:
Other cyclists saw her down as they raced to the finish line, including teammate Anna van der Breggen, who won the race in 3:51.27.
“I was really shocked when I saw the crash and it didn’t look good but I had to focus and keep on with the race,” she said.
Van Vleuten was the third cyclist to crash on the Vista Chinesa, a steeply declining mountain road, in the Rio Olympics, following wipeouts from Italian and Colombian racers in the men’s road cycling event.
American Maura Abbott was about 20 seconds behind van Vleuten and took over the lead, a lead she’d hold until the final hundred meters of the race. Abbott was passed by a trio of riders, led by van der Breggen, dropping from the gold medal position to winning nothing at all.