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Olympics: Annemiek Van Vleuten races to gold in women's time trial

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Netherlands Annemiek Van Vleuten celebrates after winning the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Greg Baker AFP Photo by GREG BAKERAFP via Getty Images

Van Vleuten hoists her bike above her head as she's confirmed as the champion (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands) races to gold in women's time trial (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Gold medalist Netherlands Annemiek Van Vleuten celebrates on the podium of the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Ina FASSBENDER AFP Photo by INA FASSBENDERAFP via Getty Images

Van Vleuten finally tastes gold (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 Womens Individual Time Trial Fuji Speedway 221 km 28072021 Marten Reuser Switzerland photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Marlen Reusser (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 Womens Individual Time Trial Fuji Speedway 221 km 28072021 Anna Van der Breggen Netherlands photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Anna van der Breggen (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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LR Silver medalist Switzerlands Marlen Reusser gold medalist Netherlands Annemiek Van Vleuten and bronze medalist Netherlands Anna Van Der Breggen celebrate on the podium of the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Ina FASSBENDER AFP Photo by INA FASSBENDERAFP via Getty Images

The podium ceremony (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands) races to gold in women's time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 Womens Individual Time Trial Fuji Speedway 221 km 28072021 Annemiek Van Vleuten Netherlands photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Van Vleuten on the Speedway circuit (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) takes bronze in the women's time trial in Tokyo (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Chloe Dygert (USA) in action in the women's time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Grace Brown (Australia) rides to fourth in the time trial at the Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Amber Neben (USA) heads to fifth in the women's time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Refugee Olympic Teams Masomah Ali Zada competes in the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Tim de Waele POOL AFP Photo by TIM DE WAELEPOOLAFP via Getty Images

Masomah Ali Zada (Refugee Olympic Team) (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Lisa Brennauer (Germany) (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Anna Shackley in the women's time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Emma Cecilie Jorgensen (Denmark) (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo Olympic Games

Sarah Gigante (Australia) in action in the women's time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 Womens Individual Time Trial Fuji Speedway 221 km 28072021 Ckloe Dygert United States of America photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Chloe Dygert (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Refugee Olympic Teams Masomah Ali Zada competes in the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Ina FASSBENDER AFP Photo by INA FASSBENDERAFP via Getty Images

Masomah Ali Zada was representing the Refugee Olympic Team (Image credit: Getty Images)
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South Africas Ashleigh MoolmanPasio competes in the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Ina FASSBENDER AFP Photo by INA FASSBENDERAFP via Getty Images

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 KarolAnn Canuel of Team Canada rides during the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

Karol-Ann Canuel (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 Sarah Gigante of Team Australia rides during the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

Sarah Gigante (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 LR gold medalist Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands and bronze medalist Anna van der Breggen of Team Netherlands pose on the podium during the medal ceremony after the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

The Dutch duo Van Vleuten and Van de Breggen both on the podium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Silver medalist Switzerlands Marlen Reusser celebrates on the podium of the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Ina FASSBENDER AFP Photo by INA FASSBENDERAFP via Getty Images

Reusser wins silver (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 LR Silver medalist Marlen Reusser of Team Switzerland gold medalist Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands and bronze medalist Anna van der Breggen of Team Netherlands pose on the podium during the medal ceremony after the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

The podium finishers (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Gold medalist Netherlands Annemiek Van Vleuten celebrates on the podium of the womens cycling road individual time trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama Japan on July 28 2021 Photo by Greg Baker AFP Photo by GREG BAKERAFP via Getty Images

Van Vleuten in dreamland (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands celebrates winning the gold medal and sings her countrys anthem on the podium at the medal ceremony after the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Van Vleuten on the podium (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 Anna van der Breggen of Team Netherlands poses with the bronze medal after the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Anna van der Breggen settles for bronze (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands kisses her gold medal after the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Van Vleuten finally tastes gold (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 Silver medalist Marlen Reusser of Team Switzerland pose on the podium with all Team Switzerland during the medal ceremony after the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Another great day for the Swiss (Image credit: Getty Images)
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OYAMA JAPAN JULY 28 LR Silver medalist Marlen Reusser of Team Switzerland gold medalist Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands and bronze medalist Anna van der Breggen of Team Netherlands pose on the podium during the medal ceremony after the Womens Individual time trial on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fuji International Speedway on July 28 2021 in Oyama Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

The podium ceremony (Image credit: Getty Images)

Annemiek Van Vleuten (Netherlands) triumphed in the women's individual time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games to take gold with a blistering performance, totally dominating the race of truth.

Van Vleuten was the fastest at every checkpoint throughout the 22.1km course, as she took her first-ever Olympic gold medal after several near misses in the past. The Dutch rider finished with a blistering time of 30:13 over the undulating course, and unlike in the road race where she finished second in a daze of confusion, there was little doubt this time around.

"I knew after the road race that I was in super, super shape and everyone was talking about everything else and what happened in the road," Van Vleuten said at the finish.

"Almost no one was talking about the performance that I had there in the road. If that performance had won me the gold medal then they would have been saying I’d had an amazing race but I closed myself from social media and we had an evaluation in the team. The message that I kept remembering in my head after the road race was that I was in super shape and that I was better than ever. I didn’t check Twitter, I didn’t check any social media, I just took that message into my preparation."

"I’m not a perfect athlete but I have a gold medal. I always thought that you need to be a freak to win a gold medal but I’m not a freak. That’s not necessary and today is a really nice bonus in my journey. I can’t believe this medal is around my neck and it’s very special to be an Olympic champion,' she added.

Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) came up with a surprise silver with a time of 31:09, while Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) finished with bronze in 31:15. There would be no return to glory for Chloe Dygert (United States of America) with the former world champion well off the pace and finishing over two minutes down in seventh with a time of 32:29. The American sustained an 80 per cent laceration to her left leg in a horrific crash at the World Championships in Imola, Italy, in September 2020.

The American was well down at the first time check and never really in the race for the medals but for Van Vleuten it was an utter masterclass in time trialing. She was six seconds up at the first time check at 9.7 kilometres with Grace Brown her closest rival in the early stages of the race but that advantage moved out to 28 seconds at the second check at 15 kilometres. 

Reusser moved from fifth at the first check to second at the line, with Brown eventually falling to fourth and missing out on a medal by just seven seconds. Amber Neben was the top American finisher in fifth.

How it unfolded

The 22.1 kilometre course started and finished at the Fuji Speedway, beginning with a four-kilometre mostly downhill section out of the Speedway, followed by a long uphill grind to the first time check at 9.7 kilometres. A long descent took the riders back to the entrance of the Speedway, followed by a hard rolling section to the finish line. The race began in sunshine, gusty winds, and 95 per cent humidity, making it feel like a sauna to the riders.

Canada's Karol-Ann Canuel set the first strong time of 33:07, but she was pushed from the top spot by Australian Sarah Gigante. France's Juliette Labous then became the first to go under 33 minutes, but that would only be good enough for 11th, as faster starters began to come in.

Van Vleuten, starting sixth from last, was setting the fastest time at both the 9.7 kilometre and 15 kilometre time splits, finishing with a time of 30:13, but the big question was, what would the final two starters do - American Chloe Dygert and van der Breggen. The answer came at the first time check, with van der Breggen only third fastest and Dygert eighth.

Dygert was a big unknown; the 2019 world champion, she had a horrific crash at the 2020 world championships while leading the race, requiring leg surgery and months of rehab. She wasn't a factor on the leader board all race, but may have been suffering from mechanical problems as well. She was nearly 52 seconds behind van Vleuten at the first split and 1:10 back at the second, and was nearly caught by van der Breggen at the finish line.

While van Vleuten had the gold sewed up, there was a battle going on for silver. Reusser was fourth fastest at the first split and dropped to fifth fastest at the second one, over 13 seconds behind van der Breggen with seven kilometres to go. However, she had a very strong final split while van der Breggen faltered a bit, eventually finishing 56.47 seconds behind van Vleuten, with van der Breggen a further 5.16 seconds back.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) 0:30:13
2Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) 0:00:56
3Anna Van der Breggen (Netherlands) 0:01:01
4Grace Brown (Australia) 0:01:08
5Amber Leone Neben (United States Of America) 0:01:12
6Lisa Brennauer (Germany) 0:01:57
7Chloe Dygert (United States Of America) 0:02:16
8Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) 0:02:24
9Juliette Labous (France) 0:02:28
10Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) 0:02:47
11Sarah Gigante (Australia) 0:02:48
12Leah Kirchmann (Canada)
13Lisa Klein (Germany)
14Karol-ann Canuel (Canada) 0:02:54
15Omer Shapira (Israel) 0:03:02
16Alena Amialiusik (Belarus) 0:03:07
17Emma Cecilie Jørgensen (Denmark) 0:03:36
18Anna Shackley (Great Britain) 0:04:00
19Julie Van de Velde (Belgium) 0:04:10
20Katrine Aalerud (Norway) 0:04:19
21Christine Majerus (Luxembourg) 0:04:20
22Eri Yonamine (Japan) 0:04:21
23Margarita Victo Garcia Cañellas (Spain) 0:04:26
24Anna Plichta (Poland) 0:04:43
25Masomah Ali Zada (Refugee Olympic Team) 0:13:50

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