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Anna Kiesenhofer stuns Tokyo with road race gold before Annemiek van Vleuten ‘celebrates’ win that never was

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Anna Kiesenhofer stuns Tokyo Games with road race gold before Annemiek van Vleuten ‘celebrates’ win that never was – GETTY IMAGES / SWPIX.COMAustrian rider Anna Kiesenhoffer lands massive Olympic upset.

Annemiek van Vleuten celebrates silver thinking she had won. Elisa Longo Borghini takes repeat bronze five years after Rio. Team GB rider Lizzie Deignan finishes in 11th place in Tokyo. Not since Christian Doppler has an Austrian mathematician produced such an extraordinary effect in their chosen field. This was one of the all-time great Olympic upsets. What a story.

Anna Kiesenhofer, an amateur rider who studied for a master’s in mathematics at Cambridge University and now works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, completely outsmarted the field yesterday to win gold in the women’s road race.

She beat the mighty Dutch team, who most pundits thought invincible. She won Britain’s best Lizzie Deignan. She hit the best the women’s World Tour could offer. And best of all, she did it without any of them realizing it. Pre-race favorite Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the line in second place and raised her arms aloft in the mistaken belief that she had won.

 

In fact, van Vleuten had finished 1min 15sec behind Kiesenhofer, who was by then lying on her back on the Tarmac of the Fuji International Speedway, heaving great gulps of air and sobbing. “I thought I won, but I was wrong,” a distraught Van Vleuten could be seen telling her coach after realizing her error. It was the most improbable of victories. Eisenhower 30 has not raced for a pro team since spending a season with Lotto-Soudal Ladies in 2017. But no one could say she did not deserve it.

Anna Kiesenhoffer – Anna Kiesenhoffer stuns Tokyo with road race gold before Annemiek van Vleuten ‘celebrates’ win that never was – SWPIX.COM

Eisenhower broke away right at the start of the 137-kilometer race, along with five others. It was Kiesenhofer who escaped solo on the final climb of the day with 40km remaining. And it was Kiesenhofer who profited when the group of race favorites – who had looked to the all-conquering Dutch team of van Vleuten, Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen, and Demi Vollering to do all the work – failed to reel in all the escapees.

They thought they had. But with Olympic road races not permitting radio communications between the team cars and the riders, and with the dossier (the blackboard official) peeling off just ahead of the van Vleuten group with around 3-4km to go, there was widespread confusion at the finish.

Italian Elisa Longo-Borghini, who took bronze, said afterward that she was aware there was still one rider away. But she was one of few who had correctly counted. Deignan, who crossed the line 11th and was thoroughly frustrated, actually congratulated van Vleuten in a post-race interview on the BBC. She was shocked when she got back to the pits and was told who had actually won.

“I don’t know a lot about her; she’s definitely a surprise winner,” she all she could manage to say. “There was a huge lack of info.” Asked how such a catastrophic error could have occurred, van der Breggen explained: “This is the only race where we ride without communication, without earphones. We got some [of the breakaway] riders back, and we thought we were going for the win. But that was not the case. You should actually start counting how many come back.

“It was confusing in several ways. We can go to the squad car for the information, and we will. But in the final, you don’t do that anymore.” This will be a bitter pill to swallow for van Vleuten, who famously suffered a near-fatal crash on the final descent in Rio five years ago when it looked as if she would win Olympic gold.

Annemiek van Vleuten – Anna Kiesenhoffer stuns Tokyo with road race gold before Annemiek van Vleuten ‘celebrates’ win that never was – GETTY IMAGES

On that occasion, van Vleuten suffered three cracks in her spine and spent the night in intensive care. This time her pain was more mental than physical, although she did have to pick herself up after a spill midway through the race, weirdly at precisely the same spot that Geraint Thomas had gone down the previous day in the men’s race. The Welshman also crashed at the same spot as van Vleuten in Rio.

Van Vleuten was understandably disconsolate at the finish. “I thought I had won,” the 38-year-old told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “I felt foolish at first. But then the other girls wondered, too … of course, this is worthless.” Not for Kiesenhofer. Virtually unheard of before the race, the 30-year-old whose Ph.D. thesis was on “Noncommunicative integrable systems on b-symplectic manifolds” is now part of Olympic history.

“It feels incredible,” she admitted. “I couldn’t believe it. Even when I crossed the line, it was like, ‘Is it done now? Do I have to continue riding?’ Incredible.” She added of her bold strategy: “I planned to attack at kilometer zero, and I was happy I could get in front. I could not take it for granted because I am not good at riding in the peloton.

“I am happy that I was not too scared, and I just went for it. I attacked, and we worked more or less together with the group – it was helpful to have a group. I saw I was the strongest and knew I had the climb before the [final] descent.

“I was just trying to get to the finish line. My legs were completely empty. I have never emptied myself so much in my whole life. I could hardly pedal anymore. It felt like there was zero energy in my legs.” Chris Boardman, commentating for the BBC, said she would have been a 1000-1 shot at the start. But perhaps only she could have come up with the odds.

Annemiek van Vleuten (leftr to right), Anna Kiesenhofer and Elisa Longo Borghini – GETTY IMAGES
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09:14 AM

Deignan: I’m really disappointed, but I have much to be thankful for

Speaking after finishing in the 11th spot, a philosophical Lizzie Deignan said she was disappointed. Still, she was involved after the Team GB rider rolled over the line with a group containing many pre-favorites.

Lizzie Deignan – Anna Kiesenhoffer stuns Tokyo Games with road race gold before Annemiek van Vleuten ‘celebrates’ win that never was – PA

“It was a weird old day,” she said. “I was between a rock and hard place really. From midway through, I was on my own but unfortunately on my own but also marked, so I didn’t have the freedom to ride as a solo rider. Tactically I think I did the right thing; it just didn’t go my way.

“It was a weird race; although there are small teams, there are agendas within the group. Because the race is so hot and humid, all moves were slightly blunted; there wasn’t that kind of spark. It was a defensive race but still really hard.

“I’m obviously really disappointed, but I have the perspective that I put myself in the position to be here; I have had a great team behind me. We have had a pandemic, and we have still had an Olympics, and there is so much to be thankful for. ”

08:30 AM

Van Vleuten thought she had won gold!

Annemiek van Vleuten – SWPIX.COM

Annemiek van Vleuten looked absolutely delighted with her silver medal, but according to some – including a well-known Dutch cycling journalist – she had thought she had won the Olympic title. Having caught Anna Plichta (Poland) and Omer Shapira (Israel), the peloton presumably assumed they were leading the race. With no race radios in operation today, there was no way for information to be relayed to them. Tweeting shortly after the race, José Been posted that Van Vleuten confirmed she thought she had won the Olympic title, saying: “I didn’t know. I was wrong. I didn’t know….”

08:17 AM

Van Vleuten takes silver

Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) holds on to take second and win silver. In contrast, Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) takes silver, but today is all about the Austrian without a trade team who attacked from the flag, forming the day’s breakaway, and went all the way to the line.

08:14 AM

Kiesenhoffer is the Olympic champion!

Anna Kiesenhoffer is an absolute legend. She’s done it. It is the first gold medal an Austrian athlete has won at the Summer Games since Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher prevailed in the sailing tornado class at Athens 2004, and they’re first in cycling since Athens 1896. On that occasion, Adolf Schmal, a fencer, won the 12-hour race contested by just two riders.

08:13 AM

1km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer is moments away from winning what will be only Austria’s second-ever cycling medal at the Olympic Games.

08:12 AM

1.5km to go

Anna van der Breggen attacks before Annemiek van Vleuten counters and is off up the road, putting some space between herself and the reduced peloton. Elisa Longo Borghini is chasing.

08:10 AM

3km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer is holding on to her lead with an advantage of 2min 25sec, while the attacks are coming wave after wave from the bunch. Presumably, they will be fighting over silver and bronze.

Anna Kiesenhoffer – SWPIX.COM

08:08 AM

4.5km to go

Heartbreak for Anna Plichta (Poland) and Omer Shapira (Israel), caught by the Dutch-powered chasing peloton. Can they now see Anna Kiesenhoffer? Oh my, what a great race this is.

08:06 AM

6km to go

Taking a couple of corners somewhat gingerly, Anna Kiesenhoffer hits the final short climb of the day, the point where Richard Carapaz dropped Brandon McNulty yesterday. But Kiesenhoffer has nobody to fall; she is, indeed, going to land a historic gold medal for Austria today. Further back, the four Dutchwomen are riding hard on the front of the chasing pack, but it may be too little too late for the team that underestimated the strength of today’s breakaway. Massively.

07:59 AM

9km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer (Austria) leads Anna Plichta (Poland) and Omer Shapira (Israel), her former breakaway companions, by 2min 32sec, while Juliette Labor (France) is another minute or so down the road. All of the pre-race favorites are a short distance back. What a story this is turning into, a real Olympic fairytale. The amateur who outsmarted the world’s best professionals.

07:55 AM

11km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer leads the peloton by 4min 14sec. The 30-year-old who no longer rides for a trade team instigated today’s breakaway and has done a pretty superb ride. From using extra-large water bottles to timing her final attack when she dropped Anna Plichta (Poland) and Omer Shapira (Israel) to holding off, first Annemiek van Vleuten and then the peloton, she has been brilliant.

07:50 AM

14km to go

Anna van der Breggen is the next to attack the bunch, but the Dutchwoman is closed down very quickly. Anna Kiesenhoffer, head bobbing slightly as she empties herself, is pushing on and maybe on her way to gold medal today that, I suspect, very few people will have predicted. It is over 100 years since Austria won an award in cycling at the Olympics; this would result.

07:48 AM

15km to go

Juliette Labor, the lone Frenchwoman in today’s race, has clipped off the front of the peloton.

07:46 AM

18.5km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer is under 20km from the line now, and she is leading some of the strongest riders in the world by over four minutes. She’s on the final race circuit, which has wide open roads, exposed to any wind that is knocking around. Anna Plichta (Poland) and Omer Shapira (Israel) trail the Austrian and, as it stands, are in the silver and bronze berths, but the peloton may yet catch them.

07:40 AM

22km to go

The USA has two riders, Chloe Dygert and Coryn Rivera, in the chasing group led by Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa). All four Dutchwomen – Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Demi Vollering, and Marianne Vos – are present, as is Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy).

07:36 AM

23km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer’s lead has dropped slightly to a shade below five minutes, but a very select group of riders is chasing her.

07:33 AM

25km to go

Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) puts in an attack, taking with her Olga Zabelinskaya (Uzbekistan), Christine Majerus (Luxembourg), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), and Chloe Dygert (USA), who earlier had been dropped. Shortly after the move, Annemiek van Vleuten is caught!

07:30 AM

27km to go

Annemiek van Vleuten has been unable to gain any more time on Anna Kiesenhoffer, and, in fact, her lead over the peloton has dropped by quite a bit. Are we watching one of the greatest ever upsets in women’s cycling?

07:25 AM

33km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer is doing really well to hold on to her sizeable lead over Annemiek van Vleuten. Remember, the Austrian is a three-time national time trial champion, so this is an ideal situation for her. Interestingly, Kiesenhoffer has been taking extra-large water bottles throughout the day to ensure she needs to drop back to her team car as many times as those with the usually sized bidon. That’s a very clever strategy in these hot and humid conditions.

07:19 AM

37.5km to go

Anna Kiesenhoffer, the Austrian rider who instigated the breakaway, has decided to attack Anna Plichta and Omer Shapira, which may play into the hands of Annemiek van Vleuten. A race of three riders vs. one vs. the peloton has become one vs. one vs. the peloton. The peloton, meanwhile, has not given up, but they will be getting no help from Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen, Demi Vollering, who are not about to chase down a teateammate7:11 AM

42.5km to go

Annemiek van Vleuten has gained over a minute on the peloton, which contains most of the other pre-race favorites, but the Dutchwoman trails by a shade over five minutes. It is a big ask, but if any rider in the world can close a gap like that, it is Van Vleuten. Crouched low, making her frontal area as small and aerodynamic as she possibly can, Van Vleuten slices through the wind ahead of one of the time trials of her life. She shouts to her team car, who respond with, presumably, details of the time gap. “Five minutes Annemiek!”

Annemiek van Vleuten – AP

07:02 AM

48km to go

Mavi García, the reigning Spanish road champion, is the next to attack out of the peloton. Still, she is followed by Marianne Vos, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa), Coryn Rivera (USA) Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Anna van der Breggen, Demi Vollering, and a handful of others.

06:59 AM

50km to go

Chloe Dygert (USA), who had tipped for the win today, has been dropped by the vastly reduced peloton, while her compatriot Ruth Winder has also fallen out of the back. Annemiek van Vleuten now trails the leading trio by 5min 45sec, and she’s onto the descent that yesterday I likened to the downhill section where the Dutchwoman crashed in Ri. Hence, one suspects the entire Dutch population will be crossing itself right now. The two-time world-time trial champion has already gained around 45sec on the peloton.

06:55 AM

53km to go | Van Vleuten attacks again!

Marta Bastianelli (Italy), Tiffany Cromwell (Australia), Alison Jackson (Canada), and Marta Lach (Poland) have all been dropped. Still, the big news is that Annemiek van Vleuten has set off the road. The Dutchwoman rose out of her saddle before putting in a trademark attack and nobody, absolutely nobody, was able to follow her. In fact, it didn’t even look like anybody bothered trying to go with her.

06:49 AM

57km to go

Another attack from Annemiek van Vleuten pulls away from a few riders. The Dutchwoman flicks her elbow as she asks Katarzyna Niewiadoma to pull through. Still, the Pole refuses, and the group comes back as one, minus a few more who are dropped, including the young Briton Anna Shackley, a vigorous climber, so that’s a bit of a surprise. It also leaves Lizzie Deignan with no teateammatesich may be crucial later in the race if she suffers any mechanical issues or requires more water bottles. Next to move the front is Demi Vollering, before a slight slowing of the group.

06:43 AM

58.5km to go

Numerous little attacks, or small accelerations really, have seen all of the big hitters, including Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa), Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Chloe Dygert (USA), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), and Marianne Vos (Netherlands) shift towards the front of the chasing group which trails the breakaway by 8min 35sec. It feels very much like the race is about to kick off, and, as expected, the Dutch are at the heart of the action, but it is not a given that they will be taking home the gold medal. As we saw with Annemiek van Vleuten’s crash, a momentary lapse of concentration can end a riders’ Olympic dream within the blink of an eye.

06:39 AM

60.5km to go | Van Vleuten attacks!

Annemiek van Vleuten is the next to dig, but she is marked out by Ruth Winder (USA).

06:37 AM

61km to go | Vollering attacks!

Here we go. Demi Vollering has clipped off the front of the peloton, and nobody has followed her. The injection in pace put in by the talented 24-year-old puts paid to a few riders who slip out of the back of the bunch, most notably Germany’s Trixi Worrack.

06:32 AM

Van Vleuten crashes!

Emma Norsgaard (Denmark) just hit the deck as she crossed the metal strip in the road where Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart crashed on Saturday. Annemiek van Vleuten, riding with her head down as if looking at her bike computer, rode into Norsgaard’s wheel before she, too, hit the asphalt. After untangling her bike with Norsgaard’s, the Dutchwoman got back on her bike, but this time had no teammates to help teammates around on.

Having won almost everything she possibly could on the road, the Olympic road race is the one Van Vleuten desperately wants to plug that hole on her palmarès, and she must be starting to wonder if the cycling gods are working against her.

06:26 AM

Van Vleuten protrected rider?

Marianne Vos has just dropped back out of the peloton to help teammate Annemiteammateeuten get back on. Interesting, does this mean that Van Vleuten is the protected rider?

06:18 AM

70km to go

Anna van der Breggen has drifted back through the bunch to her team car, where she collects an ice pack which she stuffs down the rear of her jersey, and has a chat with her sporting director. Back on the front of the bunch, it is the Germans who are setting the pace. The breakaway’s lead has dropped slightly to around 9min 20sec.

06:14 AM

72km to go

Anna van der Breggen, who, as we saw at Liège-Bastogne-Liège where she selflessly rode for teammate Demteammateng, is pulling on the front of the peloton. She’s such an excellent rider and will be in the SDWorx team car next season working as a sporting director, but today she is playing a team role for her compatriots.

06:11 AM

73.5km to go

Catalina Anais Sota (Chile) and Agua Marina Espínola (Paraguay) have been caught by the peloton as they increase the pace. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) is up near the front but has no teammate witteammateile Germany and the Dutch ride on the show.

06:07 AM

75km to go

Starting to wonder if the peloton underestimated the strength of the breakaway. Anna Kiesenhoffer (Austria) is a three-time national-time trial champion. Anna Plichta has two Polish time trial titles, and Omer Shapira of Israel has five-time trial titles on her palmarès.

Anyway, the breakaway is now onto the Doshi Road ascent, and their lead has dropped to just below 10 minutes. The following five kilometers of racing could be essential to how this race pans out. Unless the peloton can close that gap, then we could be looking at a huge upset.

05:56 AM

80km to go

Australia, who have a solid four-rider team here today, is starting to ride near the front along with Germany, while the Dutch are loitering just behind. Lizzie Deignan is looking relaxed. Given that she has just teammates, nobody will expect her to help chase down this breakaway which has increased its lead to almost 11 minutes. In what is turning into a game of who will blink first, this may be playing into the hands of Deignan, who could get a free ride today. That advantage, though, is much significant than we usually see in women’s road racing, and remember, there are no radios in operation today tthat change the dynamic of a race.

Lizzie Deignan – SWPIX.COM

05:48 AM

85km to go

Carla Oberholzer (South Africa) has now been dropped by the breakaway, leaving Anna Kiesenhoffer (Austria), Anna Plichta (Poland), and Omer Shapira (Israel) out front with a sizeable lead of 10min 18sec. Germany is riding on the show now, the Dutch seemingly gambling that the other nations will chase.

05:38 AM

90km to go

The breakaway has dropped Vera Looser (Namibia), while the leading quartet’s advantage has fallen slightly to 9min 57sec.

05:32 AM

95km to go

All change in this race. The Dutch have got their game faces on. Demi Vollering was the first to move to the front of the peloton as the incline increased, the injection in pace shelling a few riders out of the back. Selam Amha was one of those, and the Ethiopian looks cooked. Shortly after Vollering’s turn on the front, Annemiek van Vleuten who remembers suffered that horror crash in this race five years ago in Rio, took over while the four German riders sat on her.

Annemiek van Vleuten – SWPIX.COM

05:23 AM

100km to go

The breakaway’s advantage has grown to around 10 minutes, which, although sounds like quite a lead, the horsepower in the peloton should soon rein them in once the road starts to head up into the mountains. I don’t think they are too worried just yet – riders in the bunch are looking relaxed, laughing and chatting away.

05:17 AM

102.5km to go

Catalina Anais Sota (Chile) and Agua Marina Espínola (Paraguay) have clipped off the front of the peloton, bridged over and beyond Mossana Debesay (Eritrea) and Selam Amha (Ethiopia). As the road started to rise, Debesay and Amha started to flounder and were unfortunately unable to hold the wheels of the South Americans.

Agua Marina Espínola (left) and Catalina Anais Sota clipped off the front of the peloton – SWPIX.COM

05:11 AM

Wiggins: Deignan could get the job done today

Speaking earlier, Sir Bradley Wiggins said that Team GB rider Lizzie Deignan may be able to do the improbable and unpick the Dutch . . .

05:04 AM

110km to go

The breakaway’s lead has grown out to a shade below seven minutes.

05:00 AM

112.5km to go

Antri Christoforou of Cyprus has been delayed after suffering a mechanical issue. Although she dropped her bike to the ground, the 29-year-old remained calm and took a new ride from the neutral service vehicle, and it looked a little too big for the 166cm tall rider. She’s plowing on though and appears to be looking around for her team car, who will have her spare bike. Not an ideal scenario for her.

04:53 AM

115km to go

The peloton has gained a relatively large lead of 4min 31sec over the peloton, while they move from Montana Debesay (Eritrea) and Selam Amha (Ethiopia) looks doomed – they are 4min 4sec off the pace. Once the race reaches the first climb of the day, one suspects that the stronger teams will get to work and start reeling them in.

04:49 AM

Size matters

If you are new to cycling and are wondering why Austria has just one rider competing in the race (Anna Kiesenhoffer, who is in the breakaway), but the Dutch have four – the maximum permitted in today’s race – then don’t worry, almost everybody asks. Team sizes are determined by the number of UCI (International Cycling Union, cycling’s world governing body) points earned by riders from its federation in the year preceding the competition (in this case, 2019). In short, the stronger nations – Australia, Germany, Italy, the USA, and, of course, the Dutch – get more slots, while the less intense countries receive fewer. In the heat and humiteammatesmates will play a key role as they drop back to the cars to collect water bottles and fuel.

04:43 AM

125km to go

Team GB riders Anna Shackley and Lizzie Deignan have positioned themselves near the head of the peloton while defending Olympic Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands), who is retiring from racing at the end of the season, is near the back. Incidentally, Shackley is a trteammateate (SDWorx) of Van der Breggen and Demi Vollering, so he will have a good understanding of how the Dutchwomen work.

04:37 AM

Keeping cool in the heat of battle

Coryn Rivera (USA), winner of a stage at the recent Giro Donne, was just spotted dropping back to a team car to take a drink or some ice to help keep her calm. Managing the heat and humidity today, as it was in yesterday’s men’s race, will be absolutely crucial. Shortly afterward, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) does the same and has a long conversation with her sporting director.

04:33 AM

130km to go

Montana Debesay (Eritrea) has joined forces with Selam Amha (Ethiopia) to pursue the breakaway. However, that quintet is working well together and riding hard, so they will have to give it beans. The breakaway leads the peloton by around 1min 20sec.

Selam Amha (left) and Mossana Debesay – REUTERS

04:28 AM

Early attack

Anna Kiesenhoffer (Austria), Vera Looser (Namibia), Carla Oberholzer (South Africa), Anna Plichta (Poland), Omer Shapira (Israel) wasted little time in getting off up the road. The peloton appears happy, for now at least, while Selam Amha (Ethiopia) is attempting to bridge her way over to that quintet of riders.

04:21 AM

And they’re off!

The riders have navigated their way through the neutralized section of the race, passing by some beautiful-looking temples and some surprisingly big crowds, and the officials have got the racing underway proper. Interestingly, that is exciting quad had opted to wear cooling vests at the last minutiae, and it was Marianne Vos took investments off her teammates and dropped them off at her team car. Is this a sign that Vos is working as a domestique today, or more likely that she’s just a great human?

Women’s peloton – REUTERS

04:13 AM

The calm before the storm

Hello folks, and welcome to our live rolling blog from the women’s Olympic road race, the 137-kilometer drag from Musashinonomori Park to Fuji International Speedway in Japan. Yes, the 67-rides, the peloton field of riders, but one that packs a punch – is currently tapping away through a 10km neutralized section before racing gets underway. The underway women who are widely expected to dominate the race are positioned on the frontline, just behind the race official’s car, and looking relaxed. In Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Demi Vollering and Marianne Vos the Dutch squad has four possible winners of this race today.

Marianne Vos, Demi Vollering, Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen – GETTY IMAGES

04:02 AM

So, what’s on the menu today?

Unlike the men’s event, the women’s race disappointingly features neither the long ascent of Mount Fuji nor the brutal-looking Mikuni Pass, which proved a particular point. There is, however, around 2,500 meters in vertical elevation over just 137 kilometers of racing.

profile

The two featured climbs are Doshi Road, which tops out at 79.5km into the race and is 4.7km in length at an average gradient of 6.2%. This is followed shortly afterward by the Kagosaka Pass (2.2km at 4.8%), which peaks 95.5km into the race and is followed by a descent towards the Fuji International Speedway track and an undulating road. There is a small climb around 7km from the line – the point where Richard Carapaz dropped Brandon McNulty on Saturday – which may offer riders a final opportunity to shake off any unwanted rivals should a small group still be riding together.

03:43 AM

Starting list in full . . .

Australia
Grace Brown
Sarah Gigante
Amanda Spratt
Tiffany Cromwell

Austria
Anna Kiesenhoffer

Belarus
Alena Amialiusik

Belgium
Julie Van de Velde
Valerie Demey
Lotte Kopecky

Canada
Alison Jackson
Karol-Ann Canuel
Leah Kirchmann

Chile
Catalina Anais Sota

China
Jiajun Sun

Costa Rica
Maria Jose Vargas

Colombia
Paula Andrea Patiño

Cuba
Arlenis Sierra

Cyprus
Antri Christoforou

Czech Republic
Tereza Neumanova

Denmark
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig
Emma Norgaard

Eritrea
Montana Debesay

Ethiopia
Selam Amha

France
Juliette Labor

Germany
Lisa Brennauer
Hannah Ludwig
Trixi Worrack
Liane Lippert

Great Britain
Lizzie Deignan
Anna Shackley

Israel
Omer Shapira

Italy
Elisa Longo Borghini
Soraya Paladin
Marta Bastianelli
Marta Cavalli

Japan
Eri Yonamine
Hiromi Kaneko

Lithuania
Rasa Leleivyte

Luxembourg
Christine Majerus

Mexico
Lizbeth Yareli Salazar

Namibia
Vera Looser

Netherlands
Anna van der Breggen
Annemiek van Vleuten
Demi Vollering
Marianne Vos

Norway
Katrine Aalerud
Stine Borgli

Poland
Marta Lach
Katarzyna Niewiadoma
Anna Plichta

Paraguay
Agua Marina Espínola

Russia
Tamara Dronova-Balabolina

Slovenia
Eugenia Bujak

South Africa
Carla Oberholzer
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio

South Korea
Ahreum Na

Spain
Ane Santesteban
Mavi García

Switzerland
Marlen Reusser

Thailand
Jutatip Maneephan

Trinidad & Tobago
Daniel Campbell

Ukraine
Valeriya Kononenko

United States
Chloe Dygert
Ruth Winder
Leah Thomas
Coryn Rivera

Uzbekistan
Olga Zabelinskaya
Anna Kiesenhoffer

03:20 AM

Van Vleuten: Olympics as an opportunity to showcase women’s cycling

Dutch favorite Annemiek van Vleuten says winning the Olympic road race at the Tokyo Games on Sunday would rank below her three world titles because she faces a lower-quality field. Only 67 riders will start the women’s race, which is considerably shorter than the men’s event and will not tackle the famous Mount Fuji climb.

“The level of such an Olympic competition is qualitatively the lowest level of all races during four years,” Van Vleuten told reporters in the build-up to today’s race. “Half of the good riders are at home. Many countries only send one. Many I don’t even know. “I have made it a mission to point this out to people, to wake them up, to put its importance into perspective.

“You did the women short. Fortunately, the rule has changed.” Equality in women’s cycling has been a running battle in the sport. A women’s Tour de France will finally return next year after years of campaigning by Van Vleuten’s Dutch teammate and former Olymteammateion Marianne Vos. Governing body the UCI has said that the 2024 Paris Olympics will have 90 riders in both the men’s and women’s road races.

“At the next Games, the men’s and women’s peloton will be the same,” said Van Vleuten, who crashed heavily at the Rio Games in sight of victory. “Great, goal achieved. But I still think a world title is more important than an Olympic one. “A gorgeous jersey, performed in a strong field of participants, with national teams in standard size.

Let me put it this way: the Olympic title is half a percent below it. “But it’s still special because it’s once every four years. The game is widely watched. It is therefore also a moment to showcase women’s cycling, even if it is not representative.” The women’s road race is 137km long with 2,692 meters of elevation gain. Reuters