I decided this was the year I was going to get my kids into the Olympics, and we started today with the women’s cycling. A few minutes after we tuned in, American Mara Abbott (pictured) came out of nowhere during an uphill climb to pull into second place behind Dutch cyclist Annemiek Van Vleuten. Given Abbot’s ability to pull so close to the lead during the uphill climb, I assumed she’d be able to keep her momentum and pull ahead going downhill.
Abbott, however, seemed to play it conservatively on the winding downhill road. As the two leaders were speeding at around 50-55 mph, I found myself cheering Abbott to take some risks to pull ahead of van Vleuten on a road slick because of light rain. Abbott, however, kept falling further behind. However, with around 11 miles left, as I’d given up hope for Abbott, Van Vleuten suddenly, unexpectedly flew off of her bike and back-first into a curb.
It was brutal.
Cycling crash. Nasty. pic.twitter.com/GaB5DT1XRh— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) August 7, 2016
Fortunately, Van Vleuten somehow survived the accident, although she was unconscious for a period of time. She’s currently in the ICU with a concussion and three small cracks in her spine.
Dutch chef de mission reports Van Vleuten severe concussion, three small fractures on lumbar spine. Will spend 24 hours in intensive care— Jacquelin Magnay (@jacquelinmagnay) August 7, 2016
As if that weren’t dramatic enough, after pulling into a commanding lead, with about two miles left and a 35 second lead over a pack of three other bicyclist, Mara Abbott completely ran out of steam near the finish line. Despite a huge lead, the three bicyclist passed her with less than 100 meters to go, pushing her into fourth place.
Mara Abbott losing her gold medal and crossing the finish line at 4th place within a matter of seconds was so devastating— J (@Jewellmariee8) August 7, 2016
There was some good news, however. Anna van der Breggen — Annemiek Van Vleuten’s Dutch teammate — managed to win the Gold in a bittersweet victory.