Anna Kiesenhofer delivered a gold medal performance for Austria in a stunning upset victory in the women’s road race on the second day of cycling action at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
It was a frustrating day for Great Britain star Lizzie Deignan, hoping to improve on the silver medal she won in the event at London 2012, as the Yorkshire rider finished 11th in a thrilling and tactical race.
Deignan was part of a group that was left to compete for silver and bronze after 30-year-old Kiesenhofer recorded one of the most memorable wins in Olympic history.
The Austrian was part of a five-rider group that broke away from the peloton in the opening metres of the 137km race.
The five became three with 88km to go, leaving Kiesenhofer with Omer Shapira of Israel and Poland’s Anna Plichta and a lead of over 10 minutes on the chasing peloton.
One of the pre-race favourites, Annamiek van Vleuten attempted to bridge the gap to the leaders but failed and Kiesenhofer attacked from the breakaway group with 40km remaining on the final climb to launch her race-winning bid.
Deignan, meanwhile, looked frustrated as she attempted, unsuccessfully, to organise the main group to chase the leaders.
The peloton finally caught Shapira and Plichta with 4km left on the finishing circuit with van Vleuten escaping to take silver, 1:15 behind the winner, while Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini won bronze.
Deignan, whose young team-mate Anna Shackley rode strongly in supporting her before dropping out, finished 11th in a group that was 17 seconds behind Longo Borghini.
“It was a weird old race,” said Deignan. “I was caught between a rock and a hard place.
“Anna did a great job and should be proud of her effort but I was on my own but also marked so I didn’t have the freedom to ride as a solo rider.
“Tactically, I did the right thing, it just didn’t go my way. It was incredibly frustrating."