DUTCH cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten celebrated winning gold in the Olympic road race… only to be told she’d actually come second.
The 38-year-old crossed the line beaming from ear to ear and with her arms aloft, as if she’d just won a career-defining gold medal.
But she was left disappointed, after being told that Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria had in fact finished two minutes earlier.
Van Vleuten admitted her gaffe just moments later, telling her team: “I made a mistake, I made a mistake. I didn’t even know.”
The eventual runner-up thought that she led the race after a solo chase between the peloton and the breakaway following an earlier crash involving another rider.
But it was in fact Kiesenhofer that led, romping home to victory after van Vleuten and her team-mates didn’t realise there was anyone ahead to try and chase.
Riders were not permitted to communicate with their teams via radio, as they would normally be able to in other events.
So Van Vleuten was totally oblivious as she crossed the line.
Earning a medal still achieved huge personal redemption, after she suffered a horrifying crash while leading the road race at Rio 2016.
She was left with three fractures in her spine after going over her handlebars 10km from the finish line – landing head first with a bloodcurdling thump.
Van Vleuten was rushed to intensive care at the time, being left ‘super disappointed’ having ridden the ‘best race of her career’.
She was still able to grin this time around with a silver medal around her neck, even if her smile wasn’t quite as wide as Kiesenhofer’s in the end.
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