Annemiek van Vleuten has been forced to pull out of the Giro Rosa 2020 while leading the race, after a crash in the final of stage seven.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider and her team-mate Amanda Spratt were both caught in a crash during a downhill section into Maddaloni, as Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) rode to stage victory.
Van Vleuten was able to get back on the bike and finish the stage, but she and Spratt were taken to hospital after the finish.
Scans confirmed that Van Vlueten had suffered a broken left wrist, while Spratt didn’t suffer any fractures but has also abandoned the race after suffering concussion and an injured right shoulder.
While Van Vleuten has had to give up her Giro Rosa title defence because of the injury, perhaps the most disappointing news is that she will miss the World Championships in Imola next week.
Van Vleuten, who still led the race by 1-48 over Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) at the close of stage seven, said: “I was in a good position just going safe to the finish. It was a good day for us, I was never in trouble, we were in control, I was having fun on the bike until the last 500 metres when the girls crashed in front of me and I couldn’t avoid them.
“I felt immediately it was not good with my wrist, because I saw that my wrist was not straight, so I knew straight away that was not good. I will go home now and I will have an operation on my wrist on Saturday.
“I’m super sad it’s not possible to defend the maglia rosa, but even more, no Worlds on a course that suits me. I’m disappointed that I cannot defend my world champion’s jersey.”
Spratt added: “Right now my biggest feeling is just disappointment, not just for me but for Vleuty and the whole team. Our Giro was going perfectly, and it all fell apart in one instant.
“I think I am lucky I don’t have a broken bone but the shoulder is very painful still and with a concussion I have to take it easy now. I hope to recover as quick as possible and be back racing soon. Thanks to the team for the incredible support.”
The race lead now passes to Niewiadoma, who leads Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) by just 15 seconds, with two stages left to race.