Charles Beard, winner of the Washington bike messengers race in Sunday's National Capital Open, rides for the Local Motion courier service, contrary to a Sports report Monday.

Olympic double-medalist Leonard Harvey Nitz burst from a hunch-backed mass of cyclists traveling 35 mph on the Ellipse yesterday to win the featured men's 50-lap pro-am race of the 17th annual National Capital Open.

Steve Edger, an unheralded 20-year-old rider from Trexlertown, Pa., placed second, and Nitz's 7-Eleven teammate, Tom Schuler, a member of the U.S. 1980 Olympic team, was third.

Nitz, of Sacramento, Calif., who took bronze and silver track cycling medals for the U.S. last summer, also won the Open here in 1979.

The 50-kilometer (31-mile) men's race capped a full day of hot, high-speed cycling and crashes behind the White House for more than 350 bike racers and 3,000 spectators.

The crashes, spectacular high-flying pileups of bikes and riders common to bike races, resulted in numerous "road rash" abrasions and cuts, some requiring several dozen stitches to close, and one serious injury to a woman rider, identified by race officials as Barbara Nash of Stowe, Vt.

She suffered a broken pelvis, was carried off the race course on a stretcher and admitted to George Washington University Hospital, where she was listed in good condition last night.

The featured 35-K women's race -- in which 15 of the 45 riders crashed with eight laps to go -- was won for the fourth time in seven years by Betsy Davis of Bogota, N.J.

Davis entered the race wearing the stars-and-stripes jersey she earned last summer by winning the 1984 women's national criterium championship, a multilap race similar to the Open.

Ellen Larsen finished second and Betsy King was third. In fourth place was Maryland-Delaware state champion Mary Pelz, of Takoma Park, a member of the racing team of the National Capital Velo Club (NCVC), which organizes the Open.

For yesterday's winners it was handshakes, medals, flowers, almost $10,000 in prizes and kisses on both cheeks from officials of the French Embassy and Mel Pinto Imports, who jointly began sponsoring Washington's only major bike race in 1963.

The local riders of NCVC did relatively well.

The Senior III race for up-and-coming young racers was won by NCVC team rider Joe Wilson of Bethesda, with George Hebner of Baltimore taking second and Reod Fogg, also of NCVC, third.

The Veterans race, for riders over 35, was won by five-time national veterans champion Jim Montgomery of Herndon, edging last year's Open veterans class winner Bobby Phillips of Baltimore. Bob Perle was third.

Montgomery attributed his good finish to his teammates, "who pulled me up the inside to the front," with Montgomery riding in the slipstream until an exhausted teammate moved aside and Montgomery sprinted the final 200 yards to the finish.

The second annual Washington bicycle messengers race, begun with a running Le Mans start, was won in a sliding, stumbling finish by Charles Beard of Locomotion, with Chauncy Brothers of Michael's Courier Service second and Leon Best of Washington Express third.

The messengers raced on foot, many running on bicycle cleats, to unlock their bikes from a fence and after two laps relocked them and ran to the finish line.

The five-lap "midget" race for entry-level bike racers, ages 9-11, was won by George Hincapie, 11, of Farmingdale, N.Y.