The Time Trials on Wednesday morning brought to a close the road cycling events at these Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with Anna Shackley and Tao Geoghegan Hart rounding out their maiden Games with strong efforts.
Milngavie’s Shackley impressed on her Olympic debut, as even with a relatively small number of elite level race days under her belt at this early stage in her career, she was able to deliver a great supporting ride for team leader Lizzie Deignan, showing maturity beyond her years.
Despite not having a raced an elite time trial before, and racing in humidity that was akin to a sauna, Shackley was the early pacesetter – briefly entering the hotseat before Canada’s Karol Ann Canuel dethroned her moments later.
On her performance, Shackley said:
“I’m pretty tired! I think I went out a bit too hard on the long drag and I suffered a lot – especially on the climb back into the circuit.”
Exactly four minutes behind the time of eventual winner Annemiek van Vleuten, an 18th place finish would be the eventual result for the Scot, but more importantly a wealth of experience for the 20-year-old, as we hope she becomes a mainstay of the Team GB road squad for Olympiads to come.
On the impact on her development, Shackley was very reflective, noting:
“It’s massive experience - it’s my first international time trial, so it’s pretty big experience for me, and I’ve learnt maybe how to improve for next time. We did a lot of preparation for it with course notes, so that was pretty nice to put a lot of time into it.”
It was in the Japanese afternoon, or the time of the rising sun back home in Scotland, when Tao Geoghegan Hart competed in the men’s TT, where he looked to bounce back from a DNF in the road race, after he was involved in a crash that also hampered his teammate Geraint Thomas.
The 44km that the men faced included 846m of elevation gain, which came over two laps – a figure that would make mere mortals wince on a road bike, never mind on a time trial bike.
Still feeling the effects of the Tour de France and Saturday’s road race crash, Tao – who hopes to compete for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year – produced a respectable ride of 1hr 01’44”, which resulted in a 29th place finish.
Although he was six minutes behind eventual winner Primož Roglič, Tao will take both encouragement and experience from this in his Olympic debut. Whilst his race calendar is yet to be confirmed, we do hope that we’ll see Tao on Scottish roads at the Tour of Britain in September.
Whilst the road programme at the Tokyo games is complete, we look forward to seeing the track action kick off on Monday in the Izu Velodrome, with Katie Archibald and Neah Evans first to go. You can read our full schedule here.