Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten suffers horror crash in Rio

Van Vleuten is in hospital in intensive care having sustained three cracks in her spine and a concussion.

Netherlands’ Annemiek Van Vleuten (L) leads USA’s Mara Abbott during the Women's road cycling race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on 7 August, 2016. AFP.

RIO DE JANEIRO - South African cyclist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio says that she feared the worst when she rode past prone Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten who suffered a horror crash while leading the road race at the Rio Olympics yesterday.

Van Vleuten is in hospital in intensive care having sustained three cracks in her spine and a concussion. She was leading the race before crashing descending after the final climb of the race as light rain began to fall.

The South African, who finished 10th, says she was shocked as she rode past her.

"That was really quite a shock. When I went past her she looked dead, so I'm just really grateful to hear that she's conscious because it looked like it was solidly broken. I really hope that she's okay, she was my teammate last year and it was quite shocking to see that."

Van Vleuten was leading the race with around 15km to go when she skidded near the bottom of a steep descent and smashed head-first into the road and a stone kerb.

She laid motionless while help arrived but the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) later tweeted that she was "conscious and ok".

It later said she had been taken to hospital with back and head injuries but was talking and moving.

"Annemiek has severe concussion and three small fracture particles in her lumbar spine," a statement said. "She will remain in hospital for 24 hours at I.C.

"She is conscious and talking."

Van Vleuten's compatriot Anna van der Breggen won the women's race.

On Saturday Italy's Vincenzo Nibali broke both his collar bones when he crashed on the same descent while leading the men's race.

Additional information by Reuters