Cycling: Team USA’s Abbott goes from gold to fourth in final 150m

Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
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Team USA’s Mara Abbott came within moments of the first American gold since 1984 with a tremendous effort in the women’s road race on Sunday before dropping off the podium altogether with less than 150m to go.

A 39-second lead with 10km to go slowly drained and then evaporated completely in the final 30 seconds of the race, with the Netherlands’ Anna van der Breggen pulling ahead of a pack of three to win gold.

Abbott finished fourth, while Sweden’s Emma Johansson took silver. Bronze went to Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini.

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Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten and Abbott met the last 17 kilometers of the women’s road race together.

Van Vleuten pulled away on the descent, but flipped her bike off the road to allow Abbott to make up ground and march her way to gold with 10 km to go. A group of three riders would try to chase down Abbott’s 39 second lead.

The grueling affair that is the women’s road race in Rio was well worth the wait.

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Two Team USA cyclists stayed in the mix well into the race, with Abbott and Evelyn Stevens among a pack of seven riders who broke away with 25 kilometers to go.

The climb to get there sapped Stevens, who fell away from the pack five minutes later. That left Abbott in a five-woman battle. She’d later charge to the front with Van Vleuten.