American race favourite Chloe Dygert suffered a horrible crash in the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships as Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen claimed gold on Thursday.
The 23-year-old defending champion Dygert was setting the pace again and looked on course for gold on the 31.7km circuit at Imola, but lost control on a corner.
Dygert, a 10-times world champion on track and road, was 26 seconds ahead at the intermediate checkpoint but on a fast descent her bike wobbled as she came into a corner.
Despite managing to lose some speed she ran out of road, hit a barrier and flipped over the top and down a bank out of view.
Her team car immediately came to her aid and she was treated by paramedics. It was unclear initially how badly she was hurt although USA Cycling tweeted that she was conscious and talking.
“We are in contact with our coaches and Chloe’s team on the ground in Italy. We will post a report on her condition as soon as we have absolute clear confirmation as to her condition,” USA Cycling said in a statement.
Images posted on social media showed Dygert being taken away from the scene on a stretcher with a drip attached.
Olympic road race champion Van der Breggen, who finished second behind Dygert last year in Harrogate when the American won by a record margin, claimed victory in 40:20.14, 15 seconds quicker than Swiss Marlen Reusser with Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) in third place.
“Getting second (in the TT) for many years, I would say that I really can’t believe it yet,” Van der Breggen said.
The championships were originally scheduled to be held in Aigle-Martigny in Switzerland but were moved to Imola because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Action continues on Friday with the men’s elite time trial.