Harrogate's Lizzie Deignan frustrated as Tokyo Olympics' women's road race produces huge shock

Harrogate's Lizzie Deignan took a dim view of Dutch intransigence as the women’s Olympic road race produced one of the biggest shocks in cycling’s recent history.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 3:43 am
Updated Monday, 26th July 2021, 3:44 am
Lizzie Deignan, who lives in Harrogate, in action during the during the women's cycling road race at the Fuji International Speedway, Oyama at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Pictures: Getty Images

The 32-year-old, who is from Otley but now lives in North Yorkshire, was part of a peloton that waited for Annemiek van Vleuten, Anna van der Breggen and Marianne Vos to reel in a breakaway with 40km to go.

But the anticipated response never came and Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer took victory – a Cambridge mathematics graduate not signed to a trade team.

“I don’t know anything about her, she’s definitely a surprise winner,” Deignan said of Kiesenhofer.

From left: Silver medalist Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Netherlands, gold medalist Anna Kiesenhofer of Team Austria, and bronze medalist Elisa Longo Borghini of Team Italy, pose on the podium.

“There was a huge lack of information. Probably the Dutch dominance before the race worked against me in the end.

“Nobody committed. In my position as a sole rider, there was nothing I could do and I was surprised by the lack of collaboration.

“The Dutch had too many leaders, potentially. It’s almost understandable. What do you do in your team meeting when you’ve got four riders who can win the bike race? How do you decide?

“They’re all incredible riders, all very professional, but they needed to choose one leader, probably.”

Deignan was shielded from the wind by young Scot Anna Shackley in the early stages of Sunday's race, with Team GB only entering two riders having fielded three in Rio and four in London.

The Yorkshire rider, who famously won silver at her home Games back in 2012, was prominent at the front of the peloton and quickly stubbed out attacks from the likes of Ashley Moolman-Pasio.

She also drove the pace on the Doshi Road descent towards the start of a frustrating day for the bunch.

Deignan was part of the first major group to finish but couldn’t produce a sprint finish and came home 11th in the end.

“I’m happy. I feel like I was stuck in the middle of tactics and physically didn’t have the punch to make a different on the climbs,” she added.

"I would have liked top 10, it’s a shame I didn’t get top 10.”