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Gold for Annemiek van Vleuten!

Tokyo 2020
Kenny could be tempted to push for place at Paris 2024
08/08/2021 AT 20:26
No-one is going to take this one away from her. She clasps her hands like someone who has achieved a lifelong dream.

Anna van der Breggen bags another medal for the Netherlands, coming home a minute behind AVV in the bronze medal position.

Marlen Reusser up into silver

Reusser rode a really smart second half and she crosses the line eight seconds quicker than Grace Brown. Only Van der Breggen can alter the order of things now.

Van Vleuten goes fastest!

Almost breaking the 30 minute barrier. I wondered if anyone would go under it today, but it looks like an unbeatable barrier. What a ride from Van Vleuten, and it's surely going to be enough for gold. Consider all demons - from Rio, from Sunday - well and truly exorcised.

Grace Brown dividing the Dutch

The Australian rider is currently our virtual silver medalist, with Anna van der Breggen barely two seconds behind her after the second sector. I’m not such a fan of the Aussie skinsuit.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, wearing a truly badass one, crosses the finish line to set a new fastest time and collapses. The visual epitome of leaving it all out on the road.

Gold already gone for Dygert

This really is a surprise. The hot American favourite is seriously labouring and comes through the first sector almost a minute slower than Van Vleuten. A big improvement in the second half of the race could still see her climb back onto the podium but it’s a big ask.

Marlen Reusser struggling in the heat

The Swiss roller (sorry, not sorry) not going as well as we might have expected. At the first intermediate she’s 28 seconds down on Van Vleuten’s time, which is increasingly looking like it'll be tough to beat.

Annemiek van Vleuten goes fastest

At the first intermediate split she’s 40 seconds quicker than the USA’s Amber Neben. It’s a competitive time, by definition but will it be enough for a medal of any colour?
Masomah Ali Zada completes her run in a time of 44 minutes, 4 seconds, but it's not about the numbers for her. A history-making ride, and she's done herself, Afghanistan, women and every one of us proud.

Think pink

As Belgium’s Julie van de Velde becomes the first rider to finish, setting a benchmark time of 34.23, Chloe Dygert gets her race underway. She’s wearing those trademark hot pink overshoes and will be satisfied with nothing less than a gold medal.
A propos of nothing, Elisa Longo Borghini’s bike is mint. As far as time trial bikes, which are generally not things of beauty, can be.

The first numbers are coming in

Sadly Ali Zada is not among them. She’s already been passed by several riders who started after her. Karol-Ann Canuel of Canada has set the fastest time so far at the intermediate split, 35 seconds ahead of Anna Shackley at 21 minutes, 46 seconds. That climb looks tough!
Annemiek van Vleuten has just rolled down the ramp, 6th from last to start.

Sir Bradley opts for orange

Speaking to Orla Chennaoui before the race began, Bradley Wiggins said he thinks it’s going to be a day for Anna van der Breggen, rather than Chloe Dygert. She’s definitely got form, winning the ITT at the recent Giro Donne by over a minute over fellow countrywoman, Demi Vollering.

The first riders are out on the course

Including Britain’s Anna Shackley, the home favourite Eri Yonamine and the rider who came so close to a road race medal on Sunday, Israel’s Omer Shapira. None of these - or the next several - are likely to contend for gold, silver or bronze so it’ll be about putting on a good showing, representing themselves and their nation as proudly as possible.

Morning! Slash night.

Seriously, here in the UK it’s still very very dark outside. The British Cycling social media manager actually asked me last night if, like her, I was intending to stay up ‘til 3, or if I would be getting up at 3. I responded by pointing out that I’m 37.
Anyway, enough moaning about what time it is in London. In Japan it’s time to race!
Don’t expect quite the same spectacle we were graced with in Imola last year, with its sweeping shots of northern Italy. Although that course also partially took place on a motor racing circuit, it did at least dip into the cinematic landscape of Emilia-Romagna. The whole of this race will be confined to the Fuji International speedway.
While the men are required to cover two laps of the 22.1km circuit, each female athlete will complete just one. If someone wants to try and justify that decision to me, my Twitter handle is @yourewronggoaway and my DMs are open.
That said, topographically, the track is not without interest. It’s entirely up and down, which means - even more so than usual - it’ll come down to the competitors’ judgements. Knowing when to go full gas, and when to take the opportunity to recover could prove the difference between a medal and a minor place.
The weather conditions could also affect things. The road race took place in scorching sunshine but it’s all gone a bit... typhoony since then.
The women roll off the ramp at 90 second interviews in a sort of seeded order. Current World Champion Anna van der Breggen will be last at 4.06am, UK time, with Chloe Dygert the penultimate rider to start.
First to go, however, is Masomah Ali Zada from Afghanistan, riding for the Refugee Olympic Team. Here’s hoping she gets a decent amount of the TV time. Maybe she’ll even make it into the hot seat...

Who could challenge Dygert and USA?

There are a couple of riders that could challenge Dygert this year, including both Dutch riders in the event, Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Van der Breggen was the eventual victor of the World Championships in 2020 after Dygert's crash, and she also won bronze in the TT at Rio 2016. These will be her last Games, so to win gold would be a nice addition to an already bulging trophy cabinet.
Van Vleuten has never podiumed at the Olympics but has won the World Championships twice. Despite enjoying some early-season success the Movistar rider hasn't been able to replicate her stellar performances of 2020, but she certainly shouldn't be discounted. Of course, after that brutal disappointment of believing she had won the road race, only to discover that Anna Kiesenhofer had held on until the finish line, van Vleuten will have yet more fire in her belly for this ITT.

'One of the greatest performances of all time' - Kiesenhofer wins road race gold

As the Austrian’s daring solo win in the road race underscored, nothing in cycling is a ‘sure thing’. We could see another shock victor here on the Tokyo TT course and – as the route is quite hilly – it may suit some of the stronger climbers. Elisa Longo-Borghini, Italy's national champion, will be looking to improve upon her last Olympic performance after finishing fifth in Rio. A disappointing Giro Donne won't have served as the best preparation for Longo-Borghini but her bronze medal in the road race a few days ago shows she is certainly still capable of a good result. Lisa Brennauer of Germany could also be a surprise performer. She finished fourth in last year's Worlds, although granted, the route was certainly a lot flatter and perhaps more suited to her skillset.
Marlen Reusser of Switzerland shouldn't be discounted after finishing second in last year's Worlds and winning the Swiss national road and time trial championships this year. Australia's Grace Brown continues to impress with her meteoric rise to stardom, and after her stellar third place in the mountain time trial at this year's Giro Donne, could we see an Australian win an Olympic women's TT medal for the first time?
The British team will be looking to Anna Shackley for their medal hopes. The 20-year-old has enjoyed a great start to her WorldTour career with SD Worx, but this Olympics will be her first Games and as she isn't a time trial specialist, it's difficult to see her competing for a medal in this event.
It is important to note that Dygert won’t only be riding the road events this year, she is part of the United States track squad where she will be looking to better her previous silver medal in the team pursuit. With the pressure on her to succeed in so many events, could this be an ask too many for the American, who hasn’t really (bar the national time trial) raced since her crash at Imola? Only time will tell.

Welcome!

The Olympic women’s time trial is set to be one of the most hotly contested races of the Games.
With the American rider Kristin Armstrong dominating the previous three editions, her retirement prompts the question: will another nation be able to end the US stranglehold on this event? Or, will her replacement – the awe-inspiring Chloe Dygert – be able to make it four golds from four Games?
You may recall watching in horror at the 2020 World Championships in Imola as Dygert – who was almost certainly set to retain the rainbow skinsuit – lost control of her bike and fell over the guardrail, slicing her leg open and rendering her unable to finish. With such severe injuries, it seemed a daunting task for her to regain enough fitness to be primed for Tokyo, yet her recent national championship win would suggest she's back on form.

Watch: Dygert’s horror crash at World Championships

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