Dutch cyclist Annemiek Van Vleuten had a comfortable lead in the women’s Olympic road race just six miles shy of the finish line when she suffered an awful crash on a steep, slippery descent. She went head-over-handlebars and appeared to land head first on the road’s curb.
The conditions on the road race were bad yesterday for the men’s road race, which also featured an important crash among the lead group on the final descent.
But Van Vleuten’s crash was worse, both because she was all alone, and because the crash itself looked far more serious.
It had started to rain during the final descent in Sunday’s women’s road race right as the leaders reached the start of the final descent. Van Vleuten flew down the mountain and into a comfortable lead when her back wheel gave out.
Van Vleuten started to brake going around one of several steep curves:
But the back wheel went up into the air:
She went over her handlebars and landed head first:
A Dutch teammate went on to take gold, but it’s heartbreaking to be that close to the finish line — and a possible gold medal — only to crash out in such tragic fashion.
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