That’s what you do when you think you’ve won Olympic gold, except she didn’t.
“When I crossed the finish line I thought I had won,” said silver medalist Van Vleuten.
Kiesenhofer had the performance of a lifetime to outshine a field of big names and win the race, finishing in just under four hours.
Kiesenhofer spent much of the rest of the race so far in front of the chase that she was out of sight of the other riders.
Cyclists race without headphones at the Olympics and that played a role in Van Vleuten’s confusion, according to the 38-year-old Dutchwoman.
“This is an example (of what happens) if you take part in an important race like this without communication. All the races in the World Tour have communication, and now it’s the three of us who are here and we let’s ask who really won, “added Van Vleuten, referring to teammates Marianne Vos and Anna van der Breggen.
“I’m sorry about that, of course,” Van Vleuten said.
If she was upset, Van Vleuten was also happy to come away with a medal after suffering a terrible accident during the road race at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“I’m really proud of the medal, because I didn’t have an Olympic medal. It’s also a silver medal with a shine, because I felt great today,” said Van Vleuten.
“My goal was to be at my best here, and I think I did it. It’s not the result we were hoping for, but for me personally I think I had a very good race. “
“Zero energy in my legs”
Kiesenhofer, who currently does not have a professional contract, only started the sport in 2014, turning pro three years later.
According to the Olympics website, the Austrian said her ambition was “to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.” She certainly did that and more.
Kiesenhofer is not just an accomplished cyclist – she holds a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Cambridge, England, and a doctorate in applied mathematics from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain.
“My legs were completely empty. I have never emptied so much in my life. I could hardly pedal anymore. I felt like there was no energy in my legs,” Kiesenhofer said afterwards. his gold medal.
“I couldn’t believe it. Even when I crossed the line it was like, ‘Is this done now? Should I keep riding?’ Incredible, ”she added.
“I really sacrificed a lot for today. I didn’t expect to end it like this. I sacrificed everything even for a place in the top 15 and now to get it, for the sacrifices, that is. is just such an award, it’s amazing, ”she added.
Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini, who finished third, was also surprised by the way the race went.
“I thought the Netherlands had it all in their hands but in the end sometimes when you play too tactically and think you’re the stronger you lose the race,” Borghini said, as she won bronze for the second consecutive Olympic Games.
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