Omer Shapira said she always had the plan to go in the breakaway at the women’s Olympic Games road race today. The breakaway lasted 132 kilometres.
“I wasn’t in the break to show my country flag on TV,” said Omer matter-of-factly. “I thought it was my best chance to get a result, and I’m glad I did it.”
Omer, representing Israel, joined a five-rider move from kilometre 0 of the 137 kilometre women’s gold medal race Musashinonomori Park – Fuji International Speedway in Japan. The breakaway shrunk to three riders: Anna Kiesenhofer, Anna Plichta and Omer, while their advantage expanded to over ten minutes. The peloton behind looked at each other’s tactics, tried some attacks, and chased loosely, meanwhile the trio kept working to maintain a healthy advantage.
With 41 kilometres remaining, Kiesenhofer showed no fear of the distance to the finish but instead saw her opportunity to attack her counterparts and ride away to the biggest win of her career, an Olympic Games gold medal. Behind, Omer and Plichta were caught by the small chasing peloton with less than five kilometres remaining, dashing hopes of a medal.
“We had a supportive feeling in the break,” described Omer. “I had nothing when Anna (Kiesenhofer) attacked and at that moment I was running on empty after losing some gels. Anna (Plichta) closed the gap to me in the downhill, headwind section. From then on, we tried to work together but we were both very, very tired.”
“I am proud because I know with today’s conditions I gave it my all. We were caught with just a few kilometres to go. That’s bike racing.”
All credit goes to the winner, Kiesenhofer who was the first rider to attack when the neutral car rolled away, and the first to cross the line to win the gold medal. The Austrian rider initiated the breakaway, worked consistently, then attacked and went solo with a mammoth 41 kilometres remaining, only to hold off every other world-class rider behind.
NIEWIADOMA FINISHES FOURTEENTH
Representing Poland, Kasia Niewiadoma commented after the race.
“It was such a strange race. It was very chaotic and just weird tactics. I didn’t understand what the Dutch team were trying to do. Personally, I’m very proud of Anna (Plichta). She rode an amazing race and I really wanted her to get a medal! The three riders had such a big gap I was convinced they will all step on the podium,” described Kasia.
“I think this turned me off for the fight behind because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to chase Anna, and I wasn’t sure if I could attack or not. I feel happy for Anna, she showed her strength and big heart and that was amazing to see! I believe all Polish people enjoyed watching the race.”
Alena Amialiusik (Belarus) finished 17th, Shapira (Israel) 24th, Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) 26th, Chloé Dygert (USA) 31st, and Hannah Ludwig (Germany) crossed the line in 41st place.