After the Tokyo Olympics women’s time trial, when all the riders had come across the line, Marlen Reusser could be seen sitting, delighted, on the hot seat position with a big number 3 written on it. The Swiss rider had actually come second to take silver but she couldn’t quite believe it.
The 29-year-old had been back in fourth at the first time check and fifth at the second on the climb-heavy 22.1-kilometre course that started and finished at the Fuji International Speedway.
“I had some problems during the race,” said Reusser. “When I entered the speedway, they gave me water and told me I was six seconds behind third place. So I thought that was a bit sad and I'd go for full gas but I didn't expect I could make second.
"So I was going on the third podium place and then they told me, 'No, it's second'. I was like, 'What? Oh, OK.'"
What’s more, the rider who took second behind Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) at the World Championships in 2020, was surprised to be standing on the podium step above the Dutch rider, who was the last off the start ramp.
"Yeah, that's really crazy for me,” said Reusser. “I mean, I would never have believed that I, for example, could beat Anna van der Breggen on a course like this, because still, I'm struggling with technical aspects.”
The course barely had a piece of flat road where riders could put the power down, between the turns, descents and climbs which delivered a total elevation gain of 423 metres.
Reusser may have already won three national time trial championships and stood on the podium at a World Championships, and now at the Olympics, but she is a relative newcomer to the sport. She started her pro career on the UCI World Cycling Centre team in 2019, aged 27, and then in 2020 moved to Equipe Paule Kabefore joining Alé BTC Ljubljana this season.
“I think today was the best race of my life, concerning the technical aspects,” Reusser said. “I left the brakes more than I do usually so that was helpful."
With the help of that extra momentum, Reusser was the only rider to finish within one minute of Dutch gold medallist Annemiek van Vleuten, who was clearly in a league of her own, and the Swiss rider’s time of 31:09 was five seconds faster than Van der Breggen.
That time delivered Switzerland a fifth medal from cycling, with the women’s mountain bike team delivering a clean sweep of the podium on Tuesday with Jolanda Neff, Sina Frei and Linda Indergand while the day before Mathias Flückiger took silver in the discipline.
"It's amazing, it feels great, and I'm so happy I can give back something to all the people who believed in me and who helped me every day, “ said Reusser.
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