US cycling star Chloe Dygert was airlifted to hospital after suffering a horrific laceration to her leg in a crash at the Road World Championships in Italy, where she collided with a barrier before tumbling down a roadside verge.
Dygert was well on course to defend her world title after the halfway stage in the individual time trial event in Imola when she lost control of her bike on a descent.
The 23-year-old wobbled heading into a turn and was unable to regain control, smashing sideways into the roadside rail – just missing additional padding provided by the organizers – and then disappearing out of sight of the cameras.
Drama in de tijdrit: Chloe Dygert knalt over de vangrail pic.twitter.com/nRg0AdsO1O
Dygert was flown to hospital in Bologna after suffering a ‘deep laceration’ to her leg, her coach Kristin Armstrong confirmed to Cycling News.
“They were all concerned with a deep laceration to her leg, where she hit that guard rail, it’s horrifying and sickening, and it’s going to be a hard recovery for Chloe,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong, herself a three-time Olympic gold medalist, said she feared things could have been far worse for Dygert, but backed her to come back stronger.
“I always have to look at the good news, and that is that Chloe is in good hands, people are taking care of her and she has a good team around her,” she said.
“This is definitely a serious accident but she will look back on it, and hopefully, be able to say that she was lucky in a lot of ways. It could have been more serious.”
Dygert later took to Twitter to share the horrifying extent of her injuries, remarkably revealing that her first thought had been whether she could continue the race.
I remember thinking what if I can get my bike can I still win? The first thing I remember was asking @JimMiller_time if I was done.. Then I looked down and saw my leg. Thank you for all the well wishes ❤️I’ll be back pic.twitter.com/UvJ8AnfIne
“I remember thinking what if I can get my bike can I still win? The first thing I remember was asking (USA Cycling official Jim Miller) if I was done… Then I looked down and saw my leg. Thank you for all the well wishes. I’ll be back.”
Dygert was well on course to defend the title she won at last year’s World Road Championships in Yorkshire, and had been clocked at 26 seconds quicker than her rivals at just under the halfway stage in Italy before disaster struck.
The youngster, who has been described as a cycling ‘prodigy’, won silver in the Team Pursuit at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and also has seven track gold medals to her name in combined Individual Pursuit and Team Pursuit events at the World Championships.
In February she set a new world record in the individual pursuit at the Track World Championships in Berlin, and has already been was named on the USA cycling team which will compete in the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer.
USA Cycling tweeted that Dygert was expected to fully recover.
As a result of Chloe Dygert’s crash in today’s World Championship Time Trial, she has sustained a laceration to her left leg. She is out of surgery, resting comfortably and is expected to make a full recovery. (1/2) #Imola2020#RoadWorlds2020https://t.co/8rKAyXYF7tpic.twitter.com/AQL90CXifO
“We are relieved that this crash was not worse than what it could have been. While this crash is distressing, Chloe is young and a fighter,” read a statement.
“With Chloe’s determination, we know she will be back riding before we know it. For now, we want her to focus on healing.”
After Dygert crashed out, Thursday’s time trial event in Italy was won Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands, with Swiss cyclist Marlen Reusser in second and Ellen van Dijk of the Netherlands finishing third.