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Cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands was leading the women’s road race by a substantial margin when disaster struck just 10 kilometers from gold. While descending a steep hill, van Vleuten hit a curb hard and flipped over the front handlebars of her bike. The wreck was a brutal one, and information on van Vleuten’s condition was slow to come, but after about a half hour reports began trickling out that van Vleuten was conscious but in shock.
The United States’ Maura Abbott was at least 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 Vleuten’s countrywoman Anna van der Breggen, dropping from the gold medal position to winning nothing at all.
This marked the second straight day that a late wreck altered the complexion of the race. In the men’s road race, Greg van Avermaet of Belgium won gold after wrecks consumed Geraint Thomas of Great Britain, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Sergio Henao of Colombia.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.