|Date||25 July 2021 — 13:00|
|Location||Fuji Speedway, Oyama, Suntō District, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan|
|Participants||67 from 40 countries|
|Venue details||Distance: 137 km|
The women’s road race started in Musashinonomori Park and finished at the Fuji Speedway 137 km later. It was 107 km shorter than the men’s race.
In both the women’s road race and time trial, it was difficult to see anybody toppling the strong Netherlands pair of Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, the world’s No. 1 and 2 female road racers. Van der Breggen was the defending champion and was hoping to become the first women’s two-time road race champion. She also won the Giro d’Italia Femminile four times between 2015-21. The three World Road Race Championships between 2018-20 had been won by either van Breggen (twice) or van Vleuten (one). Van Vleuten had also won the Giro d’Italia Femminile twice, and between 2015-21 the pair had won four of the six races.
The Netherlands also had two other possible medal contenders at Tokyo in Marianne Vos and Demi Vollering while the best of the other riders included Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini (the daughter of Italian cross-country skier Guidina Dal Sasso and Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, bronze medallist at Rio, and 2020 World Championship bronze medal winner.
With barely 2km raced, five riders unusually made a break. With 40 km gone, the breakaway became four and was made up of Carla Oberholzer (South Africa), Anna Kiesenhofer (Austria), Omer Shapira (Israel), and Anna Plichta (Poland) and with 70 km to go, was reduced to three with Carla Oberholzer dropping back and all of a sudden the three leaders had more than a 10-minute lead on the peloton. Remarkably, one of the breakaway trio, Austria’s Kiesenhofer, made a solo break 40 km from the finishing line, which was something she had always planned to do.
Two members of the original breakaway group, Shapira and Plichta stayed in contention but Kiesenhofer kept pulling away as the chasers were eventually caught by the pack headed by the strong Dutch riders. Gold looked inevitable for the Austrian rider and van Vletuten set off in search of the silver to make amends for her horrific crash 6 km from the finish in Rio when she had gold in her sights. She was rewarded with second place in Tokyo with Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini crossing the line for a second successive bronze medal.
One of the lasting memories from the 2020 Olympics was van Vleuten crossed the finishing line raising her arms believing she had won gold, unaware that honour had already gone to Kiesenhofer over a minute earlier. Perhaps it would have been a different story had radio technology been allowed at the Olympics.
Victory for Kiesenhofer was the unlikeliest in women’s Olympic road race history. She obtained a maths degree from Cambridge University and went into the Games without a major professional cycling contract. She came away from the Games as the first Austrian cycling medallist since Adolf Schmal back in 1896, the first Austrian, male or female, to win a road race medal, and the first Austrian female to win a medal in any cycling discipline.
|2||2||Annemiek van Vleuten||NED||3-54:00||Silver|
|3||7||Elisa Longo Borghini||ITA||3-54:14||Bronze|
|6||11||Lisa Brennauer||GER||same time|
|7||28||Coryn Rivera||USA||same time|
|8||6||Marta Cavalli||ITA||same time|
|9||57||Olga Zabelinskaya||UZB||same time|
|10||10||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig||DEN||same time|
|11||22||Lizzie Deignan||GBR||same time|
|12||33||Margarita García||ESP||same time|
|13||31||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio||RSA||same time|
|14||25||Katarzyna Niewiadoma||POL||same time|
|15||1||Anna van der Breggen||NED||same time|
|17||50||Alena Amialiusik||BLR||same time|
|19||40||Eugenia Bujak||SLO||same time|
|20||41||Christine Majerus||LUX||same time|
|21||64||Eri Yonamine||JPN||same time|
|26||16||Tiffany Cromwell||AUS||same time|
|30||36||Juliette Labous||FRA||same time|
|33||52||Tereza Neumanová||CZE||same time|
|34||56||Arlenis Sierra||CUB||same time|
|35||47||Rasa Leleivytė||LTU||same time|
|36||45||Leah Kirchmann||CAN||same time|
|39||39||Tamara Dronova||ROC||same time|
|40||17||Sarah Gigante||AUS||same time|
|41||13||Hannah Ludwig||GER||same time|
|42||21||Julie Van De Velde||BEL||same time|
|43||63||Hiromi Kaneko||JPN||same time|
|45||30||Ruth Winder||USA||same time|
|46||35||Marlen Reusser||SUI||same time|
|47||15||Grace Brown||AUS||same time|
|AC||53||Agua Marina Espínola||PAR||–|
|AC||60||María José Vargas||CRC||–|