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WUHAN, China — A hit from behind on the final lap may have dashed the U.S. Armed Forces’ hopes for gold in women’s cycling, but bruised ribs and a cracked helmet didn’t stop Sgt. 1st Class Maatje Benassi from crossing the finish line.

Benassi led the pack for much of the third and fourth laps in the 50-mile, five-lap road race Sunday during the second day of cycling competition in the CISM Military World Games. She had dropped back to draft a while and was just beginning her final push when the crash happened.

“My plan was to move up on the left,” Benassi said. Two more wide right turns were approaching before the finish “and so if you move on the left, you don’t have to hit your brakes; you can carry all that momentum — that speed — going into the turn.”

CISM, or the International Military Sports Council, holds the games every four years, with more than 100 nations participating in 32 sports. The council is referred to by its French acronym, CISM, because French is its founding language.

As the pack approached the 2-kilometer mark from the finish, “there was a lot of movement going on,” she said. “It got really sketchy.”

When she went full speed into the right turn, she spotted a white jersey come up from behind. That competitor’s front tire hit her back wheel, taking her down.

Her head hit the ground and she heard a click “and I knew I broke the helmet at that point,” she said. “My first reaction was, ‘I couldn’t breathe.’” The impact literally knocked the wind out of her. “I just had to catch my breath, but it wouldn’t come.”