It was a fascinating battle on the roads around the Fuji International Speedway on Wednesday (July 28), with five riders all within 10 seconds of each other after the first of two 22km laps.
But as riders hit the tough undulating loop for a second time, Slovenia's Roglič began to pulled out an insurmountable leading, finishing a minute ahead of his nearest rival.
Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) took silver and Rohan Dennis (Australia) claimed bronze.
How it happened
The men’s time trial at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was held on a 44.2km course, taking in two 22km laps starting and finishing at the Fuji International Speedway.
With no flat sections on the course at all, it was a hugely unpredictable day of racing, with reigning world champion Filippo Ganna (Italy) heading into the event as pre-race favourite.
Riders were set off in waves of 13 competitors, with all of the favourites going inside the final wave.
Early in the day, it was Canada’s Hugo Houle who set all the benchmarks around the course, as he was fastest at the timing checks.
Houle did indeed go into the lead after the first wave with a finish time of 57-56, but he had faded dramatically on his second lap of the course.
Into the second wave and Remco Evenepoel was clearly the rider to watch, despite his unknown form after he crashed out of the Giro d’Italia.
Evenepoel was absolutely rapid on his run, catching Richie Porte (Australia) out on the road, eventually pulling ahead of Houle’s time and taking the lead by 35 seconds, with a time of 57-21.
But there was no time for the Belgian to enjoy the hot seat, as Colombia’s Rigoberto Urán put in a hugely unexpected ride, knocking Evenepoel off the top spot by three seconds.
Then as the final wave hit the course, it became very clear that the previous fastest times were going to be smashed, as Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert (Belgium), Tom Dumoulin, Rohan Dennis, and Filippo Ganna also set rapid times at the first timing check, 9.7km into the course.
But with the brutal heat and the challenging parcours, the race would all come down to pacing as plenty of riders faded on their second lap.
As the favourites finished their first lap, 22km into the run, Primož Roglič was fastest, followed by Tom Dumoulin who was eight seconds slower.
Filippo Ganna was third fastest after one lap nine seconds down, Rohan Dennis also nine seconds behind, with Wout van Aert 10 seconds slower than Roglič.
But into the final lap the race began to explode into life, as Roglič started to extend that advantage.
Tom Dumoulin finished his run and finally knocked Urán out of the hot-seat, but it wouldn’t last long.
After catching Kasper Asgreen out on the race, Roglič and the Dane battled for position on the road as they overtook each other multiple times, before Roglič finally broke clear in the final few kilometres.
The Vuelta a España champion came into the finishing straight with a huge margin over Dumoulin, eventually finishing a minute faster than his Jumbo-Visma team-mate.
Rohan Dennis was the next pre-race favourite to finish his run, but he was unable to compete for gold, taking third place at the line, redemption after a mechanical ruined his medal chances during the 2016 Rio games.
Wout van Aert wasn’t able to match Roglič in the final lap and finished outside of the medals, leaving only Filippo Ganna in with a chance at taking the gold.
But it quickly became clear that even Ganna didn’t have pace for Roglič, as he also eventually finished outside the prizes.
Roglič took the Olympic gold just three weeks after he abandoned the Tour de France, taking one of the biggest results of his career.
Britain's Geraint Thomas finished 12th on the day, 2-42 behind Roglič.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics, men's time trial: Fuji International Speedway to Fuji International Speedway (44.2km)
1. Primož Roglič (Slo), in 55-04
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned), at 1-01
3. Rohan Dennis (Aus), at 1-04
4. Stefan Küng (Sui), at same time
5. Filippo Ganna (Ita), at 1-05
6. Wout van Aert (Bel), at 1-40
7. Kasper Asgreen (Den), at 1-48
8. Rigoberto Urán (Col), at 2-14
9. Remco Evenepoel (Bel), at 2-17
10. Patrick Bevin (NZl), at 2-20
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