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Tokyo Olympics 2021: Women’s Individual Time Trial - Preview

Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) (Image credit: Getty Images)

The road cycling events continue with the individual time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Wednesday after the weekend’s exhilarating women’s road race, won by Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer

The 22.1 kilometre ITT route at the Fuji International Speedway will offer a chance for riders from competing nations to win a gold medal. The winner will take over the reins from three-time gold medallist Kristin Armstrong, who earned an extraordinary run of titles for the US across 2008 Beijing, 2012 London, and 2016 Rio de Janeiro.

The event also gives an opportunity for the specialists of the discipline to show their power against the clock, and for some nations, a second chance at a gold medal in women’s road cycling at these Olympic Games.

After the miscommunication in the women’s road race that led Annemiek van Vleuten to mistakenly celebrate victory at the line because she was unaware Kiesenhofer had already won, the Dutch team will be in full pursuit of the gold medal in the time trial – with both Van Vleuten and reigning World Champion Anna van der Breggen.

The international field competing in the event includes 20 nations with either one or two participants, along with an extraordinary rider from Afghanistan, Masomah Ali Zada, named to the IOC Refugee Olympic Team. 

Riders to watch

Chloe Dygert (USA)

Chloe Dygert (USA) (Image credit: Bettini Image)

The Dutch will field the two big favourites with reigning World Champion Anna van der Breggen and former two-time World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten. Van der Breggen has shown impeccable form in the discipline this year, winning the Dutch National Championship and then the stage 4 mountain time trial at the Giro d’Italia Donne.

Team USA field two former world champions in Chloe Dygert and Amber Neben, and both will be in contention for medals. Dygert’s form is somewhat unknown coming into this event after a long recovery from a lacerated quadricep sustained in a crash during the time trial at the 2020 Road World Championships in Imola. 

She recently won the time trial title at the USA Cycling Pro Road Championships. The time trial in Tokyo will be her second of three events at these Olympic Games, after she competed in the road race on Sunday and will race in the Team Pursuit next week on the track.

Swiss Champion Marlene Reusser will be one to watch after her silver-medal performance at the World Championships in Imola last year. Italian Champion Elisa Longo Borghini took the bronze medal in the road race and is also a contender in the time trial. 

German Champion Lisa Brennauer is a specialist in the event having won the world title in 2014. Australia’s Grace Brown proved on great time trial form placing third in the stage 4 mountain time trial at the Giro d’Italia Donne.

Riders to watch for a top-10 performance include Canadian Champion Leah Kirchmann, who placed fourth in the event at the 2018 Worlds. Spanish Champion Mavi García is a former professional duathlete and a specialist against the clock. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of South Africa has been training for this event and has a shot at a top 10 on the hilly route.

Cyclingnews has a full list of riders to watch coming soon.

 The route

Tokyo Olympic Games Women's Time Trial - Profile

Tokyo Olympic Games Women's Time  Trial - Profile (Image credit: UCI)

The women will complete one full lap for a total of 22.1 kilometres with a total elevation gain of 423 metres. Off the starting ramp, the women will 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.

Tokyo Olympic Games Women's Time Trial - Map

Tokyo Olympic Games Women's Time Trial  - Map (Image credit: UCI)

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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