The Olympic road race did not yield a medal for Team SD Worx. In a very special race, the six riders of the team, divided over five countries, were not involved. While Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer was able to benefit surprisingly from the freedom she was given as an unknown rider, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio became the first rider of Team SD Worx on behalf of South Africa in 13th place.
Defending champion Anna van der Breggen finished 15th. “I don’t even know the winner,” ‘VDB’ said to a main Dutch broadcast. “We certainly underestimated the Austrian. However, to what extent can you do something wrong if you do not know someone?”
Van der Breggen indicated that they actually thought they were heading for the win on the track at Fuji Speedway. “It was a tough race, but also very confusing. In the final we didn’t know that the Austrian was still leading. We all thought we were riding for the win. Of course it’s a matter of counting. When we got the Polish and Israeli back, we thought no one was leading the way.”
How is that possible? “This is the only championship that we run without communication. In the final you don’t go back to the car to ask what the situation was in the race. We just didn’t have the right information,” says Van der Breggen.
Winner Kiesenhofer managed to escape with four other riders after three kilometres. There was no real pursuit for a long time, which increased the lead to eleven minutes. This is because almost all countries look to the Dutch team and none of the orange quartet feels appropriate to do early pursuit work.
Only the Austrian remained of the leading group. At 53 kilometers from the finish, Annemiek van Vleuten counterattacks. In her counterattack, however, the deficit remains at about 5 minutes. The chase really only gets going in the last twenty kilometres, but by then it was already too late. Despite the work of many, including Van der Breggen, Moolman-Pasio and Demi Vollering in the chasing group, Kiesenhofer retains a large part of its large lead.
Team SD Worx in Olympic road race:
13. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)
15. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
16. Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)
20. Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)
25. Demi Vollering (Netherlands)
DNF Anna Shackley (Great Britain)
Photo credits: Getty Sport