Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the women's individual time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Pleased you could join us for this coverage of the 22.1 kilometre long time trial starting and finishing at the Fuji International Speedway in just over an hour and 15 minutes.
Conditions are a little cooler today at the Fuji International Speedway, which hosted four Formula One races in the 1970s and 2000s.
The temperature is forecast at around 25°C for when the time trials are on, with the men's following not long after the women finish.
This morning's official forecast says there is the possibility of a a shower and lightning in the afternoon, but with any luck that will be after the time trials are done.
The women, from the forecast, look likely to escape any threat of rain as that's a possibility forecast for late afternoon/early evening in Japan.
Let's take a look at the course.
The women will complete one full lap of the 22.1 kilometre course. Off the starting ramp, they begin with a fast descent along the twists and turns through the exit of the speedway.
The climbing will begin at roughly the 5 kilometre mark with the lower slopes reaching 8.9 per cent gradient followed by a more gradual 5.9 per cent and then 4 per cent before a steep pitch at the top of 11 per cent. This mid-race climb is about 3 kilometres long and peaks at approximately 10.3 kilometres, almost halfway into the route.
From there, the riders will descend back into the entrance of the speedway and hit the second climb at the 15.5 kilometre mark, which is shorter at roughly two kilometres but with sections as steep as 8.9 per cent. This climb peaks at the 17.5 kilometre mark and through the pit lane.
The route then levels off, but it is not completely flat, with undulations all the way through the last 2.5 kilometres to the finish line at the Fuji International Speedway.
The intermediate check points will come at 9.7 kilometres and 15 kilometres with riders starting 90 seconds apart.
Less than an hour until we start now.
It is certainly not a course for the time trial rider that's not fond of climbs, with 423 metres of elevation gain.
Not that the climbing is likely to bother most of the key contenders, like reigning world champion in the discipline Anna van der Breggen and her fellow Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten.
There's also a newcomer to the world stage of time trialling who was rather chuffed at the ascent-laden course.
“I love the time trial course … this one is pretty much as good as it could get for a time trial,” said Australian time trial champion Sarah Gigante, who is unquestionably fond of the uphill.
It will be the first big showing for Gigante on the world time trial stage, so it will be particularly interesting to see how she fares when she sets off among the early starters.
We spoke the 20 year old about what the Olympics spot meant to her before she set off for Tokyo.
Sarah Gigante: From howls of pain and disappointment to an Olympics dream
It will also be interesting to see how Great Britain's Anna Shackley, who will be third off the start ramp, fares up against the best in the world. The 20-year-old neo pro signed up with SD Worx this year and competed in the road race in support of Lizzie Deignan. She probably won't mind the on course climbs either.
Here's the full start list:
Tokyo Olympics women's time trial - start times
The first rider off the line at 11:30 (JST) will be Masomah Ali Zada who is from the IOC Refugee Olympic team.
There were 29 athletes selected in the Refugee Olympic Team. Masomah Ali Zada is from Afghanistan and with her family was given asylum in France in 2017.
"For my country, I think that I am the only girl who is going to take part in the Olympic Games in cycling," Masomah Ali Zada, 24, said in a video interview published last month.
"There haven't been any before, but I want to show all the men who thought that cycling isn't a women's thing, that I have made it all the way through to the Olympics. And if I can do it, any woman who wants to be involved in cycling, they can do it, from any country, like Afghanistan.
With less than half an hour to go till the first rider rolls off the ramp it is probably time to start looking at the contenders for the gold medal, which American Kristin Armstrong has had a monopoly on for the last three Olympics.
We know the medal is going to change hands as the retired Armstrong isn't on the start line.
The Dutch are again favourites in the race for the top medals, just like they were at the road race, and no doubt they will be determined to make this event a gold after Austria's Anna Kiesenhofer spoiled their plans in the road race.
Olympics: Shock gold for Anna Kiesenhofer in women's road race
It is no surprise that Anna van der Breggen is the favourite. The soon to retire Dutch rider is reigning world champion, won the Dutch National Championships and the stage 4 mountain time trial at the Giro d’Italia Donne, where she also won the overall title. She clearly intends to deliver in her final year in the sport and has the form to do it.
What Van der Breggen didn't have though, was the ideal training run, pulled from her bike by official. Fortunately she was unharmed.
Van der Breggen pulled from bike by Tokyo Olympics official during time trial training
Annemiek van Vleuten won silver in the road race, though for a while she thought it was gold, and has been completely focussed on Olympics preparation in the run up. The 38 year old has two world time trial titles to her name, 2017 and 2018.
We also have Chloe Dygert among the favourites with the rider from the United States delivering a dominant performance to win the world title in 2019. Her form is a little unknown though, as while she recently won her national title she has had a long recovery from a lacerated quadricep sustained in a crash during the time trial at the 2020 Road World Championships in Imola.
Then there is Swiss champion Marlen Reusser, Australia's Grace Brown, Lisa Brennauer of Germany and Mavi Garcia of Spain.
You can find more detail on the contenders here:
Tokyo Olympics: 7 riders to watch for the women’s individual time trial
Looks to be rather windy out there on the time trial course, with a few dark clouds clearing.
The time trial has begun.
Rolling off the line first, Masomah Ali Zada.
Now it is Julie Van Der Velde of Belgium.
As we mentioned, rider will roll out in 20 second increments. The next to go is Anna Shackley of Great Britain.
A few twists and turns after the start line, with Canada's Karol Ann Canuel next off the ramp.
We will get out first intermediate time checks at 9.7 kilometres.
The six time national champion for Japan Eri Yonamine is next off and she'll soon be followed by her trade teammate at Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, Sarah Gigante of Australia.
The road race at the Olympics was Gigante's first race back after a horrible crash at La Flèche Wallonne where she broke three bones.
Israel's Omer Shapira is now off after an impressive break at the Olympics road race, though she didn't quite manage to hold off the chase at the end.
Hopefully Shapira has recovered after that long hot effort out the front during the road race, as she took off right at the start and wasn't caught until the final kilometres.
Katrine Aalerud of Norway is on the course.
Christine Majerus of Luxembourg, who has won a stunning 14 national titles in the discipline in a row, is off and riding.
Now we have one of those afore mentioned contenders, Mavi Garcia of Spain who used to be a duathlete.
Canadian champion Leah Kirchman is on the course.
Lisa Klein is next,. She won the individual time trial at the Baloise Ladies Tour this year and the well prepared German could be an outsider for a high finish.
Van de Velde of Belgium is the first through the intermediate check point at 9.7 km.
Anna Shackley (Great Britain) is more than 25 seconds quicker at that first check point with a time of 15:55:28
In the meantime Juliette Labous of France and Alena Amialiusik of Belarus have rolled off the ramp.
Canada's Karol Ann Canuel is the new fastest time at the first check.
Masomah Ali Zada giving it her all as she rides through the first check, while Anna Plichta of Poland, who was also in the road race break, rolls off the ramp.
Now we see South Africa's Ashleigh Moolman Pasio out on the course.
Sarah Gigante has gone through the first timing point 10.96 seconds back from the leader.
And it is on to the second check for Anna Shackley and Julie Van de Velde, with Shackley the fastest at this point.
Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy is out on the course while Emma Cecilie Joergensen has rolled off the ramp, soon to be followed by Amber Neben of the United States.
Canada's Canuel is now the fastest rider who has gone through the second 15km check point.
The Dutch have begun, with Annemiek van Vleuten now out on the course.
Australia's Grace Brown has also rolled off the start line, hoping for better form than in the road race. She has had a good run in with the race against the clock, with third at the mountainous Giro d'Italia Donne time trial.
Leah Kirchman (Canada) is the new fastest time at the first intermediate check with 15:32.12
Lisa Brennauer (Germany) is off and riding. Now we only have three riders to go.
Not a great time at the first check for Mavi Garcia, back in 10th place out of the 13 riders that have gone through.
A new. leader on the first intermediate split, with the 22 year old French rider Labous in the lead.
Just van der Breggen left to start now as Marlen Reusser (SUI) and Chloe Dygert (USA) are out on the course.
Our final rider has left the start ramp, with world champion Anna van der Breggen now on the course.
We also have our first rider finished, with Julie van de Velde delivering a time of 34:23.49
Anna Shackley came in faster at 34:13.60 but then Canada's Canuel knocked the time down further.
Ashleigh Moolman Pasio now has the fastest time at the first check, with 15:13.50
Australia's Sarah Gigante is the new fastest finisher with 33:01.60. 6.37 seconds faster than Canuel.
Annemiek van Vleuten is unsurprisingly now in the lead at the first intermediate split with a time 28.27 seconds quicker than Amber Neben.
Australia's Grace Brown has slotted into second at that first check point, 6.29 seconds down on Van Vleuten.
Weather is looking fine and sunny for the time trial and Gigante is still in the hot seat with 33:01.60.
Christine Majerus finished 1:32.53 behind Gigante, currently in 8th.
Leah Kirchman (Canada) so very close to Gigante's time, but didn't quite make it, up just +0.04.
Chloe Dygert is back down 51.82 second on Van Vleuten at the first check. Not a good start for her.
New leader, Juliette Labous with 32:42.14
That time was 19.46 seconds better than Gigante's
Anna van der Breggen goes through the first check in third place behind van Vleuten and Brown. She is 18.95 seconds behind.
At the second check Van Vleuten is still the fastest, with Brown 28.01 seconds back in second.
Looking like a good day out so far for the Australian rider, who was hoping the podium was a possibility.
This is what she told us last month: “I really want to be on the podium for the time trial, it's a hard discipline,” Brown told Cyclingnews. “Especially since we don't have that many opportunities to practice in a race.
“It's an event that you love and hate at the same time. It is one of the most painful, painful experiences and you always get to the start ramp thinking, ‘why do I do this to myself?’ But you manage to put yourself through the pain of it and it's really rewarding at the finish line.”
Moolman Pasio the new leader with 32:37.60
Longo Borghini slots into third for now behind Labous
Van der Breggen still in third on the road after the second time check.
Annemiek van Vleuten is the new race leader with a stunning time of 30:13.49
That is 1:12.64 better than Neben, who is in second. She got close to closing the 90 second gap to the rider who started in front of her.
Brown is heading toward the finish now.
Grace Brown slots into second place with a time of 31:22.22
Brown was 1:08.73 behind van Vleuten.
Now to see if any of the last four riders on the road can challenge Van Vleuten. The intermediate time checks would suggest not.
Lisa Brennauer (Germany) slots into fourth place at the moment.
Marlen Reusser has taken second place for now.
The Swiss rider came in at 31:09.96, cutting the gap to Van Vleuten to under a minute, at 56.47 seconds.
Now just Dygert and Van der Breggen are on the course
Looks like Dygert will just make it to the end without being caught.
Dygert slips into 6th for now.
Van der Breggen takes bronze.
Van Vleuten has now got her gold medal.
Gold and silver at Tokyo, an impressive tally for Van Vleuten.
So to recap, that is Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) with gold, Marlen Reusser (SUI) with silver and Anna van der Breggen (NED) taking bronze
Australia's Grace Brown missed the podium by about 7 seconds and Amber eben of the United States came fifth.
Here is our report on the women's time trial:
Olympics: Annemiek Van Vleuten races to gold in women's time trial
Dygert is on the ground after the finish, clearly having given it all in that time trial and finishing seventh.
Van Vleuten is clearly overjoyed to take gold, celebrating with just how much that gold medal means written all over her face.
Van Vleuten is the second Dutch cyclist to win the women's individual time trial at the Olympic Games, with Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel taking gold in 2000 and 2004.
Van Vleuten had done everything she could to deliver the best performance possible at the Olympics, prioritising it over the Giro d'Italia Donne this year and skipping the race which she has twice won. She instead prepared at altitude, taking to the Sauna at times to replicate the hot humid conditions expected in Tokyo.
Some pictures from out on the road
Australia's Sarah Gigante, who came 11th had a chat with reporters after the race. The 20 year old got to sit in the hot seat for a while and she is definitely one to watch for the future after this strong result in her first big international time trial outing.
Sarah Gigante ‘so proud’ of injury comeback and Olympic Games performances
Here is the winner speaking after the medal ceremony:
Annemiek Van Vleuten puts social media negativity behind her to win Olympic gold
Here is what Marlen Reusser of Switzerland said about her unexpected second place:
"Yeah, that's really crazy for me. 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. I think today was the best race of my life, concerning the technical aspects. I left the brakes more than I do usually so that was helpful."
Anna van der Breggen said it wasn't her best time trial today and she was tired, so was happy to end up on the podium in her last event at the Olympics.
“A bronze medal is a great way to finish this all. It’s my third Olympic medal and that makes me proud. I can look back on many great races and on a great career.”
And finally a word from Masomah Ali Zada from the Refugee Olympic Team:
"It was so, so good, my first time trial, my first Olympic Games. As a first experience, I'm so happy with it because I worked for it and I tried to use all the sacrifice from several months. I don't have any regrets.
"I'm so happy to represent the Refugee Olympic Team because I will send a message of hope and peace for 82 million people who are obliged to leave their country because of different reasons. And also I'm here to represent the rights of women in Afghanistan and for all countries like Afghanistan, where people think that women don't have rights."
Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of the women's time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games. That's all from us on this live coverage, but as always you will continue to find plenty more continuing to flow on the Cyclingnews site.
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