Van Vleuten in hospital after crash as Armitstead misses medal

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Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen wins race after late crash

Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead missed out on an Olympic medal in a women’s road race marred by a horrific crash.

The world champion, who faced being banned for the Games after missing three drugs tests, finished fifth.

Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten went to hospital with severe concussion and three small fractures in her lower back after crashing as she led the race.

Team-mate Anna van der Breggen won gold, ahead of Sweden’s Emma Johansson and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini.

Van Vleuten later tweeted to say she was “fine” after her accident but “super disappointed after best race of my career”.

Watch: Follow the winding descent of the women’s road race

Winding roads of the women's road race<!–

London 2012 silver medallist Armitstead, 27, was cleared to compete at Rio after a successful appeal and was in contention until the final stages.

Van der Breggen won the 141km race in a time of three hours 51 minutes and 27 seconds, ahead of silver medallist Johansson and Longo Borghini, who took bronze.

However, the race was marred by van Vleuten’s nasty-looking fall.

Van Vleuten, 33, had sped off from the pack when she came off her bike on the descent of the steep Vista Chinesa, where several men – including Britain’s Geraint Thomas – crashed on Saturday.

Van Vleuten was taken to hospital where Dutch cycling officials later said she would spend the next 24 hours in intensive care.

van Vleuten on Twitter<!–

Van Vleuten tweeted an update on her condition on Sunday evening

Former British Olympic champion Chris Boardman, working as an expert analyst for BBC Sport, believes the Rio course was “too dangerous”.

“I’m actually quite angry because I looked at the road furniture and thought nobody can crash here and get up. This was way past technical, this was dangerous.”

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Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, defended the course, saying it “was carefully designed and was extensively tested at the test event and in training.

“We do our utmost to design safe, challenging courses but unfortunately crashes do sometimes occur due to a combination of factors.”

Van der Breggen, 26, said Van Vleuten’s crash made her more determined to win gold for the Dutch.

women's olympic road race<!–

The road race course was decribed as “brutal” by Armitstead

She won the sprint to the line along the Copacabana, holding off Johansson and Longo Borghini as the trio overtook American Mara Abbott on the straight.

“I was pretty shocked about it, I think she crashed hard,” said Van der Breggen. “I realised I was first in the team and had to chase. We knew we had to do it.”

Armitstead proud despite missing medal

Armitstead, the reigning world and Commonwealth champion, was one of the pre-race favourites to triumph in Rio.

But the Yorkshire rider’s preparations were hampered by the possibility of a ban for missing the three drugs tests – and the increased scrutiny she faced when the news emerged last month.

She avoided a suspension of up to two years after winning a Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) appeal.

anna van der breggan<!–

Van der Breggan’s gold follows compatriot Marianne Vos’ win in the same event at London 2012

Not only did Armitstead face questions about her mental focus as she lined up on the start line, many wondered whether she had the physical capability to cope with the mountainous course in Rio.

She responded with a gutsy performance on a course she had described as “brutal”, despite ultimately missing out on a second Olympic medal.

Armitstead was part of a group which wiped out a gap of over a minute between themselves and the breakaway as they climbed Vista Chinesa.

“I did exactly what I wanted to do on the climb; I didn’t panic and knew I couldn’t follow the best climbers up there,” she said.

“I didn’t give up. It’s something I’ve been working on for months now and I knew what I had in the legs – I did as best as I could.”

women's road race<!–

The race finished on Copacabana beach after winding through steep sections of nearby jungle…
womens's road race<!–

The testing terrain also included difficult cobbled sections and ran along steep cliff edges
anna van der breggen<!–

The low countries have enjoyed great success in the Olympic cycling, with Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet winning the men’s race
Clemilda Fernandes Silva<!–

Brazilian Clemilda Fernandes Silva tries to hide her disappointment after the race
Lizzie Armitstead<!–

Armitstead is currently the reigning world, Commonwealth and national road champion

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