Cycling: Joy and pain for Dutch as Van der Breggen wins gold

Sun Aug 7, 2016 7:31pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The capricious nature of road racing revealed itself on Rio's perilous Olympic course again on Sunday as Anna van der Breggen took gold after a horror crash for a teammate and American Mara Abbott was cruelly denied a medal.

After commanding leader Annemiek van Vleuten somersaulted into a ditch after skidding at high speed on the slippery Vista Chinesa descent with less than 20km remaining, Abbott rode solo and was leading with 200 meters of the 137km route left before she was engulfed by three chasers.

Van der Breggen then waited for her moment and powered past Beijing runner-up Emma Johansson of Sweden and Italian Elisa Longo Borghini, who took silver and bronze with Abbott trailing in the dreaded fourth place.

The 26-year-old continues Dutch domination of the Olympic road race since it was introduced in 1984. The cycle-mad nation has won four of the nine editions, but emotions were mixed as Van Vleuten was taken to hospital with back injuries.

A statement from the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) said she was conscious and not in danger.

"She has severe concussion and three small fracture particles in her lumbar spine. She will remain in I.C. for 24 hours," it said on Twitter. "She is conscious and talking."

Van der Breggen expressed concern for her teammate after the finish.

"I won the biggest race of my career so I'm really happy but I'm really hoping Annemiek is okay," she told Reuters.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Cycling Road - Final - Women's Road Race - Fort Copacabana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/08/2016. Anna van der Breggen (NED) of Netherlands celebrates winning the women's road race. REUTERS/Matthew Childs