The Tokyo Olympics are set to come to fruition after they were postponed last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Athletes descend to Tokyo prepared for a different kind of Olympic experience without the spectators, the fanfare, the media frenzy or the athlete’s village, and there will be many protocols and restrictions in place that aim to keep everyone on the line. site as safe as possible.
The heart of the competition remains intact, and therefore, competing athletes and fans watching from their home televisions around the world can look forward to a fascinating elite women’s road race on Sunday, July 25.
The UCI announced the number of athletes that each National Olympic Committee qualified for the road events of the Tokyo Olympic Games with 130 places for the elite men’s road race and only 67 for the women’s road race.
It showed a surprising, but historic lack of parity, which has led many to question the UCI’s commitment to equality in professional cycling, but the sport’s governing body has since promised. full gender parity in terms of the number of athletes in cycling events at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. At the next Summer Olympics, there will be a total of 180 spots allocated to road cycling races which will be redistributed and split equally between elite men and women races, with 90 athletes in each event.
This year, the 67 athletes who will compete in the elite women’s road race include leading nations in the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Italy and the United States. Each will field four riders, while all other nations will field between one and three riders in the road race.
The Dutch women’s team has dominated the last two Olympic Games with Marianne Vos winning the gold medal in London 2012 and Anna van der Breggen winning the gold medal in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
The Dutch national team have announced a luxury team of four riders to take part in the women’s road race in Tokyo and they look set to win a third consecutive gold medal with a dream team which includes Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten, Marianne Vos and Demi Vollering.
Riders to watch out for
Anna van der breggen (Netherlands) – The two-time world champion is the reigning women’s road race champion and the overwhelming favorite to win a second consecutive gold medal. She had an exceptional season, notably winning a record seventh Flèche Wallonne and a fourth overall title at the Giro d’Italia Donne just before boarding a plane for the Tokyo Olympics. She is expected to retire at the end of 2021 and she has every intention of setting the highest possible level in her final season as a professional before becoming athletic director of her SD Worx sales team.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) – Van Vleuten will compete in her third Olympic Games after racing in London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, where she was involved in a horrific high-speed crash in the final downhill while leading the race that left her recovering from a severe concussion and three small fractures in her lower back. Winner of the Tour of Flanders earlier this spring, she then skipped the Giro d’Italia Donne to focus on the Olympics. Van Vleuten said she spent time training at altitude in Italy and part of that training included turbo sessions in an air-conditioned room which helped her adjust to the heat and the weather. humidity expected in Tokyo.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Poland) – She was only 22 when she first competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and finished 6th. Niewiadoma said a lot has changed over the past five years and maturity, along with feeling refreshed and motivated, will help him in his quest for a medal this time around. This year, she finished fourth at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, second at Dwars door Vlaanderen and Flèche Wallonne, fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 10th at the Vuelta a Burgos and sixth at La Course. She also skipped the Giro Donne and instead raced the Baloise Belgium Tour to gain speed and a spark of pure motivation ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (South Africa) – Fresh out of his first victory at the Giro Donne, on the queen summit of stage 9 of Monte Matajur, Moolman-Pasio is ready for success on the hilly course of the Tokyo Olympic Games. She won’t have any teammates at the start line, but if she lines up out of her trade teammates SD Worx Van der Breggen and Demi Vollering in the mountains, she could end up in a medal position at Fuji International Speedway.
Grace Brown (Australia) – She made no secret of the fact that Australia were not racing for second place in Tokyo. Brown, along with teammates Amanda Spratt and Sarah Gigante led by road captain Tiffany Cromwell, are in good standing to give the Dutch team a run for their money on the hilly course. While Spratt and Gigante may be the strongest climbers, Brown has the perfect combination of power and oomph for the occasion. She won Bruges-De Panne and finished third in the Tour of Flanders earlier in the year, and recently finished third in the mountain time trial at Giro Donne. Watch for Brown to challenge the climbs and possibly steal a late-race breakaway at Fuji International Speedway.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) – She was just barely at the recent Giro d’Italia Donne, but Longo Borghini remains a prime candidate for the Tokyo Olympics. She won the bronze medal at Rio 2016 and prepared for these games with an all-or-nothing approach to her racing style which earned her victories at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, national championships and podiums at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne. -Cork. She has a strong squad which includes Marta Cavalli, Marta Bastianelli and Soraya Paladin, so keep an eye on this squad to help Longo Borghini succeed in Tokyo.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark) – Excluded from the Giro Donne due to a crash in the opening team time trial, Uttrup Ludwig has recovered and is ready to contend for a medal in Tokyo. The course is suited to her characteristics as a hilly Classics rider, who this year finished in the top 10 at the Strade Bianche, Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. She went on to claim her first Women’s WorldTour victory at La Vuelta a Burgos, then finished second in La Course.
Overview of Cyclingnews’ complete start lists here.
The elite women’s 137 km road race will start from Musashinonomori Park and finish at Fuji International Speedway. The women’s course will not go through Mt. Fuji likes men but will include climbs on Donushi Road and Kagosaka Pass, and there will be 2,692 meters of elevation gain.
The women’s field will start from Musashinonomori Park and start with a 10 km neutral zone, followed by approximately 30 km of flat terrain before reaching the climbing section at mid-race.
The women’s peloton will then tackle the approximately 45 km of gradual ascent with an average gradient of 2 percent to the top of the race’s first ascent, Donushi Road. The last 5 kilometers of the climb will test the peloton with an average of 6% but with sections as steep as 10%. The ascent culminates at 80 km of the race.
After a descent of 1.5 km and 12.5 km of flat terrain along Lake Yamanaka, the peloton will begin the second ascent of the Kagosaka pass. This climb is 2.2 km with an average gradient of 5%.
The peloton will then begin a 14km descent to Fuji International Speedway, where the women’s peloton will compete a lap and a half of the hilly track before crowning a winner of the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games.
What to expect
The Dutch team was talked about before these Olympic Games and it is because they have four potential winners.
On a course that looks like an Ardennes classic, this team has won them all this year, with Vos winning the Amstel Gold Race, Van der Breggen winning the Flèche Wallonne and Vollering winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Although not part of the three Ardennes, Van Vleuten also won the Tour of Flanders.
As for the Dutch team, they normally line up as the most powerful team at major events such as the Olympics and World Championships. While some might question their ability to stay cohesive and focused on a team goal, in the end, they stay professional and almost always come away with the win.
You can expect the Dutch team to control the narrative in the elite women’s road race. On mid-course climbs watch out for Van der Breggen or Van Vleuten for a long range attack, and in case of reduced sprint watch for Vollering or Vos.
However, bike races always have an element of unpredictability and surprise. Some nations, especially those with fewer numbers, might be forced to pay by Dutch rules to make the selection, but nothing prevents other nations from participating in a tactical race from start to finish.
Look for nations with a number equal to the Dutch team, such as Italy, USA, Germany, and Australia, to play a tactical game. Plus, watch for riders from smaller nations like Spaniard Mavi Garcia, to try their luck in a breakaway to disrupt the status quo.
The Tokyo course offers most of its ascent at the halfway point, and so we can expect to see either a gradual decrease in the field or an outright battle for the ascent of Donushi Road. One can also expect to see explosive attacks over the Kagosaka Pass, the last major climb of the course.
However, the last stage of the race is hilly and presents the perfect opportunity for Ardennes style riders who are left in the mix, and in this case expect to see a breakaway at the end of the race or a sprint in small. group at the Fuji International Speedway. .