Laura Trott, a double Olympic champion on the track but still learning the ropes on the road, was taken to hospital after suffering a bad fall on the third stage of the Friends Life Women's Tour.
Trott, riding for the Wiggle Honda team, was sent tumbling to the tarmac after careering into the tail end of a crash during the wind-blown 90.5km stage from Felixstowe to Clacton-on-Sea. The 22-year-old landed on her head but remounted and finished the stage.
She was taken to hospital in Clacton for X-rays on her elbow and for treatment for suspected concussion before being released later in the evening. It is a particularly cruelly timed blow for Trott as today's fourth stage departs from her home town of Cheshunt and large crowds are expected in the hope of seeing her and her sister, Emma, lead off the peloton.
Despite her injuries the redoubtable Trott remains determined to ride today – like her Olympic team-mate Dani King, who is also competing for Wiggle Honda, Trott sees the race as an important means of attracting more women into the sport, as well as wanting to ride in a major race in the town where she first started cycling. She tweeted after her release from hospital: "Hit the deck today.. Pretty dam hard! Elbow xrayed and all ok! So onto the next stage. Cheshunt here we come."
Rochelle Gilmore, Wiggle Honda's principal, said: "It was a nasty crash. She was actually shaking, she looked a little bit pale and it was a bit scary. She had to take a minute to consider whether it was worth continuing or pulling out, and decided to get back on the bike.
"Moments later she was throwing up off the bike, which is a really bad sign that she hit her head quite hard, but the main concern for her was her elbow.
"When she came in I have never seen anyone in so much pain. It's really hard to see the tears of pain after the stage and it's amazing that she wants to start on Saturday, even though she hasn't had a chance to consider what condition she is in."
The stage was won by Marianne Vos and it means the Dutchwoman, the pre-start favourite, takes on the race lead ahead of the weekend's final two stages. Lizzie Armitstead now trails Vos by 18 seconds. Emma Johansson, the Swede who won the opening stage, is second, eight seconds behind the leader .
Meanwhile, Dan Martin's Giro d'Italia hopes were ended on the opening stage in Belfast as he suffered a serious crash. The Irishman appeared to slip on a drain in wet conditions during the team time trial, causing several of his Garmin-Sharp team-mates to hit the ground around him.
Martin, a stage winner on last year's Tour de France, was one of the contenders at the start of the race, but the crash left his team's plans in ruins. Three other riders fell with Martin, while the remaining five – including 2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal – limped on to the finish but crossed the line in a time more than four minutes down on the lead time, set by Orica GreenEdge.Reuse content