Veteran Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten powered to gold in the Olympic women’s time trial on Wednesday, days after her red-faced finish to the road race when she mistakenly thought she had won. The 38-year-old from Utrecht produced an Olympic gaffe for the ages on Sunday, punching the air in delight after crossing the finish line believing she had won gold.
In fact, the race had been won by Anna Kiesenhofer, with a blushing Van Vleuten later admitting she was unaware that the Austrian amateur had broken away earlier in the race.
There was no doubt about victory in Wednesday’s time trial at the Fuji International Speedway, however, as Van Vleuten delivered a dominant performance to finish the undulating 13.7 mile course in 30:13. Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser took silver in 31:09 while Anna van der Breggen claimed bronze in 31:15.
Van Vleuten’s victory was the first Olympic title of her career and completed a miraculous comeback from a horrific injury at the 2016 Rio Games. The Dutch star was left with three spinal fractures and a severe concussion after she lost control during a descent while leading the road race in Brazil. Van Vleuten left the road and slammed head first into a concrete curb, lying motionless before being treated by paramedics and rushed to intensive care.
Misfortune appeared to have struck again in Tokyo when she crashed during Sunday’s road race before recovering to join the leading pack, only to finish second behind shock winner Kiesenhofer.
However, she recovered from that setback to give a masterclass in Wednesday’s time trial, leading at every checkpoint to take gold.
WOMEN’S TIME TRIAL RESULTS
|1||VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek||Netherlands||30:13|
|3||VAN DER BREGGEN Anna||Netherlands||1:02|
|5||NEBEN Amber||United States||1:13|
|7||DYGERT Chloe||United States||2:16|
|8||MOOLMAN Ashleigh||South Africa||2:24|
|10||LONGO BORGHINI Elisa||Italy||2:47|
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini