Anna Kiesenhofer took a shock solo win for Austria in the women’s Olympic cycling road race, before second-placed Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the line and thought that she had secured gold.
Kiesenhofer, without a professional contract since 2017, was on the attack from the very start of Sunday’s 137-kilometre race to the Fuji International Speedway, and was rewarded with a truly stunning victory after going solo for the final 40km of the race.
A combination of no race radio and small squads — only five nations had the full complement of four riders — proved a recipe for chaos behind her and resulted in Dutch rider Van Vleuten’s confusion when she crossed the line 75 seconds after Kiesenhofer.
At the time, it seemed too soon to go clear as van Vleuten was attacking out of the peloton behind, but there was no miscalculation from Kiesenhofer, who had quite literally been doing her homework to set up this victory.
The 30-year-old, the reigning Austrian time trial champion, studied Maths at the University of Cambridge before obtaining a PhD from the University of Catalonia, but more recently has been studying the effects of heat on the body – ideal preparation for racing in the humid conditions of Japan.
With Plichta and Shapiro hoovered up by the peloton as they entered the speedway for the second and final time, many in the chasing group believed they were then fighting it out for gold.