Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten had pulled solidly ahead with 11 miles remaining in the women's road race at the Summer Olympics.
She was riding into a bend with nobody between her and a gold medal when she crashed in a brutal fashion. The fall was hard to watch, and it marred the end of the race, won by teammate Anna van der Breggen.
Shortly before van Vleuten's crash, condensation started to appear on NBC's camera lenses, and television commentators worried that competitors were riding hard into curves. She was traveling at something near 50 mph, and the crash was clearly horrific from the second it happened.
In a tweet shortly after the race ended (and written in Dutch), the Netherlands' cycling federation said van Vleuten was conscious and on her way to the hospital for further examination, accompanied by a federation doctor. van Vleuten sent an update later on Sunday:
I am now in the hospital with some injuries and fractures, but will be fine. Most of all super disappointed after best race of my career.— Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) August 8, 2016
She followed up on Monday morning, with this:
Still in the hospital. Waiting for some research&hope I can leave today. Knowing that this chance is 1 in 4 years, doesn't make it easy.— Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) August 8, 2016
On Tuesday, she tweeted a photo update and thanked her fans for the support:
American Mara Abbott passed her for the lead seconds later, and the rest of the field followed. The race took on, at least from afar, an uncomfortable feel after van Vleuten's crash.
Abbott appeared to be home free for a gold medal once van Vleuten went down, with nobody near her on the course. But Abbott ran out of steam late and failed to medal – a devastating development at the end of a nearly 90-mile race.
The final top three: