Cycling at the Olympics (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - Australian rider Melissa Hoskins was taken from the Rio Olympics velodrome on a stretcher on Monday after her pursuit team crashed hard while training, though it appeared everyone on the squad escaped serious injury.
The team of Hoskins, Ashlee Ankudinoff, Georgia Baker, Amy Cure and Annette Edmondson was at the end of the back straight when the crash occurred. Edmondson stayed on her bike as the other riders fell hard onto the banked wooden surface.
Hoskins was put in a back brace as a precaution and taken to a Rio de Janeiro hospital for examination, Cycling Australia spokeswoman Gennie Sheer said.
Ankudinoff, Baker and Cure walked off the track and were treated for bruises and floor burns.
Edmondson tweeted late on Monday night: "Training crash update: Everyone is OK! Bruised, battered but OK" with a thumbs-up emoticon.
The team pursuit competition begins with qualifying on Thursday.
Hoskins helped Australia win the discipline at the world championships last year, and along with Edmondson was part of the squad that was fourth at the London Olympics.
It was not immediately clear what caused the team, riding in the tight single-file line of the pursuit event, to hit the ground while training at race speed. But it was hardly the first crash of the cycling program.
During the men's road race on Saturday, several riders hit the deck on the descent of the Vista Chinesa climb.
Vincenzo Nibali was left with a broken collarbone, Sergio Henao a fractured pelvis and Australian rider Richie Porte with a broken scapula.
Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten crashed from the lead on the same descent in the women's race on Sunday, sending her to the hospital with a concussion and three fractures of her spine. She was still in the hospital on Monday while awaiting more tests.
Some riders who practiced on the $56 million Olympic velodrome this week have complained of the wood surface, which was delayed several times during installation and only recently opened for competition.
"At first it looks very fast, but now I think it is not very fast at all," German sprinter Rene Enders said. "After training on it, the boards have a lot of grip, and the wood is soft. It's a difficult track to race on because the wood is new and a little bit damp. It will get faster, in a few years, but not during these Games. It's OK because it is the same for everybody."
Australia coach Gary West said recently that the track is similar to the velodrome in Los Angeles, where the team had been training ahead of the Rio Games.
"The common theme is smooth," he said. "Each track is different. Some are wider. Some are longer on the straights. They're all 250m but they all have their own nuances. We are fortunate to have trained in LA, which was built by the same guy who built this one."