Rio 2016 Olympics: Annemiek van Vleuten is 'fine' after high-speed crash

Annemiek van Vleuten
Van Vleuten was fortunate to escape without serious injury in the crash

Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten says she is "fine" in hospital after a serious crash while leading the women's road race in Rio on Sunday.

The 33-year-old had pulled clear with 10km to go, but came off her bike on a sharp turn while travelling at speed down the Vista Chinesa descent.

She lay motionless while help arrived.

Van Vleuten was taken into intensive care after suffering severe concussion and three small fractures in her lower back.

She later tweeted to say she was "super disappointed after best race of my career".

Van Vleuten sent a further tweet on Monday, which read: "Waiting for some research and hope I can leave today. Knowing that this chance is one in four years doesn't make it easy."

On Saturday, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali broke a collar bone when he crashed on the same descent while leading the men's race.

Annemiek van Vleuten
Van Vleuten was travelling at speed down the Vista Chinesa descent
Annemiek van Vleuten
The Dutch rider was leading the race but came off her bike at a sharp turn in the road

Former Olympic individual pursuit champion Chris Boardman told the BBC the course was dangerous.

"I am past commenting - I am angry about it," he said.

"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."

Cycling's governing body, the UCI, defended the course, saying it "was carefully designed and extensively tested".

It added: "We do our utmost to design safe, challenging courses but unfortunately crashes do sometimes occur due to a combination of factors."

Van Vleuten's Netherlands team-mate Anna van der Breggen went on to win gold in three hours, 51 minutes and 27 seconds.

Van der Breggen, asked about passing her stricken team-mate at the side of the road, said: "It really shook me when I saw Annemiek crashed in the road. If you see her like that, it changes everything."

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