In another strange turn of events at the Rio Olympics 2016, cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands crashed on Sunday afternoon during the women’s road race. Leading the pack on a downhill decline in light falling rain, van Vleuten’s tires began to skid as she made a right hand turn at a bend in the path. She was thrown head first from her bike as she tried to avoid her impending slide, flying over the bike’s handlebars and hitting the road’s curb. Media outlets, including NBC, report van Vleuten laid motionless while other riders passed her by, but at least one medic immediately came to her aid.
WARNING: Graphic images.
Shocked and shaken by the intensity of the crash, many went to Twitter to post their support for the Olympian. Shortly after she was placed on a stretcher to be taken to the hospital, the Dutch Cycling Federation tweeted that van Vleuten is OK and conscious.
Van Vleuten landed right on her back... pic.twitter.com/Cg0mYABq9Q— Nate Abbott (@nabbott) August 7, 2016
Annemiek van Vleuten, 33, was 11 miles ahead of her competition with only six miles left to go in the 90-mile race when the accident occurred. SB Nation reports the fall, which pre-empted her gold medal win, was difficult to watch and hurt the outcome; however, the road race was won by fellow teammate, Anna van der Breggen.
Following her gold medal win, van der Breggen spoke with reporters, “I was pretty shocked, I think she crashed hard. I realized I was at the front of the team, so I had to chase. I did it for Annemiek. To see her like that, it’s a big shock.”
According to updates by the NBC Olympics reports, it has been confirmed that van Vleuten was conscious and able to communicate as she was transported from the site of her fall to a local hospital.
Hours after her arrival at the medical facility, The Dutch cycling federation tweeted that the medal-worthy cyclist ‘suffered three small vertebrae fractures and a severe concussion’. Officials went on to state she will spend the next 24 hours in intensive care.
Annemeik van Vleuten’s crash is very similar to that of the Italian cyclist, Vincenzo Nibali, which occurred one day earlier during the men’s road race. Nibali was also leading his race before he crashed and broke his collarbone, NBC claims.
After Nibali’s unfortunate crash in his final two kilometers, AOL News reported that his coach, Davide Cassani, tweeted: “Unfortunately [Nibali] has a broken collarbone. The first thing he said to me was: ‘I feel sorry for the other guys’. Ours is a real team.”
Reports suggest Nibali has returned to Italy to have surgery on his collarbone.
But, Nibali was not the only rider hurt in the men’s race, according to Cycling Weekly. Sergio Henao of Colombia crashed as well, injuring his iliac crest and suffering chest trauma. British rider, Geraint Thomas, fell during his final descent, sustaining injuries to his back and side but with no reported fractures, he was able to remount and finish the race. Australia’s Richie Porte was hurt as he rode into a tree while trying to avoid a run in with another competitor.
Although Porte fractured his shoulder blade, he found the humor in it all as he updated fans via Twitter.
BBC UK commentator and former cyclist, Chris Boardman, has been vocal about the dangers of Rio’s race path suggesting it is not safe.
“I am past commenting – I am angry about it. I went down and had a look at the course and saw those edges. We knew it was way past being technical; it was dangerous. The people who designed the course and said what safety features were needed had seen it as well and left it. We knew the descent was treacherous. I looked at that road furniture and thought, nobody can crash here and just get up. It is really bad and that is what we have seen today.”
With the injuries sustained by Annemiek van Vleuten and the host of others, do you agree?
Check in with the Inquisitr daily for more updates and news regarding the 2016 Rio Olympics.
[Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images]